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The Way to Dusty Death 

ALISTAIR MACLEAN, the son of a Scots Minister, was brought up in the Scottish 
Highlands. In 1941 at the age of eighteen, he joined the Royal Navy; two and a half years 
spent aboard a cruiser was later to give him the background for HMS Ulysses, his first 
novel, the outstanding documentary novel on the war at sea. He is now the author of 
twenty-two best-selling novels, of which Goodbye California is the most recent; sixteen of 
them have now sold more than a million copies throughout the world. 

Many of his novels have also been filmed - The Guns o fNavarone, Where Eagles Dare 
and Force Ten From Navarone are among the most famous - and there are plans to film 
many more books including The Golden Gate. 

Available in Fontana by the same author 

Seawitch, H.M.S. Ulysses, The Guns of Navarone, South by Java Head, 

The Last Frontier, Night Without End, Fear is the Key, The Dark Crusader, 

The Golden Rendezvous, The Satan Bug, Ice Station Zebra, When Eight Bells Toll 
Where Eagles Dare, Force Ten From Navarone, Puppet on a Chain, 

Caravan to Vaccares, Bear Island, Breakheart Pass, Circus, The Golden Gate 


The Way to Dusty Death 

FONTANA, Collins 

First published in 1973 by William Collins Sons & Co Ltd 
First issued in Fontana Books 1975 Ninth Impression May 1979 
© Alistair MacLean 1973 

Made and printed in Great Britain by William Collins Sons & Co Ltd Glasgow 



This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade 
otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the 
publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in 
which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition 
being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. 

The Way to Dusty Death 



Harlow sat by the side of the race-track on that hot and cloudless afternoon, 
his long hair blowing about in the fresh breeze and partially obscuring his face, 
his golden helmet clutched so tightly in his gauntleted hands that he appeared to 
be trying to crush it: the hands were shaking uncontrollably and occasional 
violent tremors racked his entire body. 

His own car, from which he had been miraculously thrown clear, uninjured, 
just before it had overturned lay, of all places, in its own Coronado pits, upside 
down and with its wheels spinning idly. Wisps of smoke ware coming from an 
engine already engulfed under a mound of foam from the fire extinguishers and 
it was clear that there was now little danger of an explosion from the unruptured 
fuel tanks. 

Alexis Dunnet, the first to reach Harlow, noticed that he wasn’t looking at his 
own car but was staring trance-like at a spot about two hundred yards farther 
along the track where an already dead man called Isaac Jethou was being 
cremated in the white-flamed funeral pyre of what had once been his Grand Prix 
Formula One racing car. There was curiously little smoke coming from the 
blazing wreck, presumably because of the intense heat given off by the 
incandescent magnesium alloy wheels, and when the gusting wind occasionally 
parted the towering curtains of flame Jethou could be seen sitting bolt upright in 
his cockpit, the one apparently undamaged structure left in an otherwise 
shattered and unrecognizable mass of twisted steel: at least Dunnet knew I was 
Jethou but what he was seeing was a blackened and horribly charred remnant of 
a human being. 

The many thousands of people in the stands and lining the track were 
motionless and soundless, staring in transfixed and incredulous awe and horror 
at the burning car. The last of the engines of the Grand Prix cars — there were 
nine of them stopped in sight of the pits, some drivers standing by their sides — 
died away as the race marshals frantically flagged the abandonment of the race. 

The public address system had fallen silent now, as did a siren’s ululating wail 
as an ambulance screeching to a halt at a prudent distance from Jethou’s car, its 
flashing light fading into nothingness against the white blaze in the background. 
Rescue workers in aluminium asbestos suits, some operating giant wheeled fire- 
extinguishers, some armed with crowbars and axes, were trying desperately, for 

some reason wholly beyond the bounds of logic, to get sufficiently close to the 
car to drag the cindered corpse free, but the undiminished intensity of the flames 
made a mockery of their desperation. Their efforts were as futile as the presence 
of the ambulance was unnecessary. Jethou was beyond any mortal help or hope. 

Dunnet looked away and down at the overalled figure beside him. The hands 
that held the golden helmet still trembled unceasingly and the eyes still fixed 
immovably on the sheeted flames that now quite enveloped Isaac Jethou’s car 
were the eyes of an eagle gone blind. Dunnet reached for his shoulder and shook 
it gently but he paid no heed. Dunnet asked him if he were hurt for his face and 
trembling hands were masked in blood : he had cart-wheeled at least half a 
dozen times after being thrown from his car in the final moments before it had 
upended and come to rest in its own pits. Harlow stirred and looked at Dunnet, 
blinking, like a man slowly arousing himself from a nightmare, then shook his 

Two ambulance men with a stretcher came towards them at a dead run, but 
Harlow, unaided except for Dunnet’s supporting hand under his upper arm, 
pushed himself shakily to his feet and waved them off. He didn’t, however, seem 
to object to what little help Dunnet’s hand lent him and they walked slowly back 
to the Coronado pits, the still dazed and virtually uncomprehending Harlow, 
Dunnet tall, thin, with dark hair parted in the middle, a dark pencil-line 
moustache and rimless glasses, everyone’s idealized conception of a city 
accountant even though his passport declared him to be a journalist. 

MacAlpine, a fire-extinguisher still held in one hand, turned to meet them at 
the entrance to the pits. James MacAlpine, owner and manager of the Coronado 
racing team, dressed in a now stained tan gaberdine suit, was in his mid-fifties, 
as heavily jowled as he was heavily built and had a deeply lined face under an 
impressive mane of black and silver hair. Behind him, Jacobson, the chief 
mechanic and his two red-haired assistants, the Rafferty twins who for some 
reason unknown were invariably referred to as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, 
still ministered to the smouldering Coronado, while behind the car two other 
men, white-coated first-aid men, were carrying out more serious ministrations of 
their own : on the ground, unconscious but still clutching the pad and pencil with 
which she had been taking lap times, lay Mary MacAlpine, the owner’s black¬ 
haired, twenty-year-old daughter. The first-aid men were bent over her left leg 
and scissoring open to the knee wine-red slacks that had been white moments 
ago. MacAlpine took Harlow’s arm, deliberately shielding him from the sight of 
his daughter, and led him to the little shelter behind the pits. MacAlpine was an 

extremely able, competent and tough man, as millionaires tend to be: beneath the 
toughness, as of now, lay a kindness and depth of consideration of which no one 
would have dared to accuse him. 

In the back of the shelter stood a small wooden crate which was, in effect, a 
portable bar. Most of it was given over to an ice-box stocked with a little beer 
and lots of soft drinks, chiefly for the mechanics, for working under that torrid 
sun was thirsty business. There were also two bottles of champagne for it had 
not been unreasonable to expect of a man who had just reeled off a near¬ 
impossible five consecutive Grand Prix victories that he might just possibly 
achieve his sixth. Harlow opened the lid of the crate, ignored the ice-box, lifted 
out a bottle of brandy and half-filled the tumbler, the neck of the bottle 
chattering violently against the rim of the glass: more brandy spilled to the 
ground than went into the glass. He required both hands to lift the glass to his 
mouth and now the rim of the tumbler, castanet-like fashion, struck up an even 
more erratic tattoo against his teeth than the bottle had on the glass. He managed 
to get some of it down but most of the glass’s contents overflowed by the two 
sides of his mouth, coursed down the blood-streaked chin to stain the white 
racing overalls to exactly the same colour as the slacks of the injured girl 
outside. Harlow stared bemusedly at the empty glass, sank on to a bench and 
reached for the bottle again. 

MacAlpine looked at Dunnet, his face without expression. Harlow had 
suffered three major crashes in his racing career, in the last of which, two years 
previously, he had sustained near-fatal injuries: on that last occasion, he had 
been smiling, albeit in agony, as his stretcher had been loaded aboard the 
ambulance plane for the flight back to London and the left hand he had used to 
give the thumbs-up signal — his right forearm had been broken in two places — 
had been as steady as if graven from marble. But more dismaying was the fact 
that apart from a token sip of celebration champagne he had never’ touched hard 
alcohol in his life. 

It happens to them all, MacAlpine had always maintained, sooner or later it 
happens to them all. No matter how cool or brave or brilliant they were, it 
happened to them all, and the more steely their icy calm and control the more 
fragile it was. MacAlpine was never a man to be averse to the odd hyperbolic 
turn of phrase and there was a handful —but only a handful —of outstanding ex- 
Grand Prix drivers around who had retired at the top of their physical and mental 
form, sufficient, at any rate, to disprove MacAlpine’s statement in its entirety. 

But it was’ well enough known that there existed top-flight drivers who had 

crashed or who had suffered so much nervous and mental fatigue that they had 
become empty shells of their former selves, that there were among the current 
twenty-four Grand Prix drivers four or five who would never win a race again 
because they had no intention of ever trying to do so, who kept going only in 
order to shore up the facade of a now-empty pride. But there are some things that 
are not done in the racing world and one of those is that you don’t remove a man 
from the Grand Prix roster just because his nerve is gone. 

But that MacAlpine was more often right than wrong was sadly clear from the 
sight of that trembling figure hunched on the bench. If ever a man had gone over 
the top, had reached and passed the limit of endurance before tumbling over the 
precipice of self-abnegation and hapless acceptance of ultimate defeat, it was 
Johnny Harlow, the golden boy of the Grand Prix circuits, unquestionably, until 
that afternoon, the outstanding driver of his time and, it was being increasingly 
suggested, of all time : with last year’s world championship safely his and the 
current year’s, by any reasonable standards, almost inevitably his with half the 
Grand Prix races still to run, Harlow’s will and nerve would have appeared to 
have crumbled beyond recovery : it was plain to MacAlpine and Dunnet that the 
charred being who had been Isaac Jethou would haunt him for however long his 
days were to be. 

Not that the signs hadn’t been there before for those with eyes to see them and 
most of the drivers and mechanics on the circuits had the kind of eyes that were 
required.. Ever since the second Grand Prix race of the season, which he had 
easily and convincingly won unaware of the fact that his brilliant younger 
brother had been forced off the track and had telescoped his car into a third of its 
length against the base of a pine tree at something over a hundred and fifty miles 
an hour, the signs had been there. Never a sociable or gregarious person, he had 
become increasingly withdrawn, increasingly taciturn and when he smiled, and it 
was rarely, it was the empty smile of a man who could find nothing in life to 
smile about. Normally the most icily calculating and safety-conscious of drivers, 
his impeccable standards had become eroded and his previous near obsession 
with safety dismayingly decreased while, contradictorily, he had consistently 
kept on breaking lap records on circuits throughout Europe. But he had 
continued on his record-breaking way, capturing one Grand Prix trophy after the 
other at the increasingly mounting expense of himself and his fellow 
competitors: his driving had become reckless and increasingly dangerous and the 
other drivers, tough and hardened professionals though they all were, began to 
go in fear of him for instead of disputing a corner with him as they would 

normally have done they had nearly all of them fallen into the habit of pulling 
well in when they saw his lime-green Coronado closing up on their driving 
mirrors. This, in all conscience, was seldom enough, for Harlow had an 
extremely simple race-winning formula-to get in front and stay there. 

By now more and more people were saying out loud that his suicidally 
competitive driving on the racetracks signified not a battle against his peers but a 
battle against himself. It had become increasingly obvious, latterly painfully 
obvious, that this was one battle that he would never win, that this last ditch 
stand against his failing nerve could have only one end, that one day his luck 
would run out. And so it had, and so had Isaac Jethou’s, and Johnny Harlow, for 
all the world to see, had lost his last battle on the Grand Prix tracks of Europe 
and America. Maybe he would move out on the tracks again, maybe he would 
start fighting again: but it seemed certain then that no one knew with more 
dreadful clarity than Harlow that his fighting days were over. 

For a third time Harlow reached out for the neck of the brandy bottle, his 
hands as unsteady as ever. The once-full bottle was now one-third empty but 
only a fraction of that had found its way down his throat, so uncontrollable were 
his movements. MacAlpine looked gravely at Dunnet, shrugged his heavy 
shoulders in a gesture of either resignation or acceptance and then glanced out 
into the pits. An ambulance had just arrived for his daughter and as MacAlpine 
hurried out Dunnet set about cleaning up Harlow’s face with the aid of a sponge 
and & bucket of water. Harlow didn’t seem to care one way or another whether 
his face was washed: whatever his thoughts were, and in the circumstances it 
would have taken an idiot not to read them aright, his entire attention appeared 
to be concentrated on the contents of that bottle of Martell, the picture of a man, 
if ever there was one, who desperately needed and urgently sought immediate 

It was as well, perhaps, that both Harlow and MacAlpine failed to notice a 
person standing just outside the door whose expression clearly indicated that he 
would take quite some pleasure in assisting Harlow into a state of permanent 
oblivion. Rory, MacAlpine’s son, a dark curly-haired youth of a normally 
amiable even sunny, disposition had now a dark thundercloud on his face, an 
unthinkable expression for one who for years, and until only a few minutes 
previously, regarded Harlow as the idol of his life. Rory looked away towards 
the ambulance where his unconscious and blood-soaked sister lay and then the 
unthinkable was no longer so. He turned again to look at Harlow and now the 
emotion reflected in his eyes was as close to outright hatred as a sixteen-year-old 

was ever likely to achieve. 

The official inquiry into the cause of the accident, held almost immediately 
afterwards, predictably failed to indict any one man as the sole cause of the 
disaster. Official race inquiries almost never did, including the notorious inquiry 
into that unparalleled Le Mans holocaust when seventy-three spectators were 
killed and no one was found to blame whereas it was common knowledge at the 
time that one man and one man only — dead now these many years — had been 
the person responsible for it. 

This particular inquiry failed to indict, in spite of the fact that two or three 
thousand people in the main stands would unhesitatingly have laid the sole 
charge at the door of Johnny Harlow. But even more damning was the 
incontrovertible evidence supplied in the small hall where the inquiry was held 
by a TV playback of the entire incident. The projection screen had been small 
and stained but the picture clear enough and the sound effects all too vivid and 
true to life. In the re-run of the film — it lasted barely twenty seconds but was 
screened five times — three Grand Prix cars, viewed from the rear but being 
closely followed by the telescopic zoom lens, could be seen approaching the pits. 
Harlow, in his Coronado, was closing up on the leading car, a vintage privately- 
entered Ferrari that was leading only by virtue of the fact that it had already lost 
a lap. Moving even more quickly than Harlow and well clear on the other side of 
the track was a works-entered fire-engine-red Ferrari driven by a brilliant 
Californian, Isaac Jethou. 

In the straight Jethou’s twelve cylinders had a considerable edge over 
Harlow’s eight and it was clear that he intended to pass. It seemed that Harlow, 
too, was quite aware of this for his brake lights came on in keeping with his 
apparent intention of easing slightly and tucking in behind the slower car while 
Jethou swept by. 

Suddenly, incredibly, Harlow’s brake lights went out and the Coronado 
swerved violently outwards as if Harlow had decided he could overtake the car 
in front before Jethou could overtake him. If that had been his inexplicable 
intention then it had been the most foolhardy of his life, for he had taken his car 
directly into the path of Isaac Jethou who, on that straight, could not have been 
travelling at less than 180 miles an hour and who in the fraction of the second 
available to him had never even the most remote shadow of a chance to take the 
only braking or avoiding action that could have saved him. 

At the moment of impact, Jethou’s front wheel struck squarely into the side of 
Harlow’s front wheel. For Harlow, the consequences of the collision were, in all 

conscience, serious enough for it sent his car into an uncontrollable spin, but for 
Jethou they were disastrous. Even above the cacophonous clamour of engines 
under maximum revolutions and the screeching of locked tyres on the tarmac, 
the bursting of Jethou’s front tyre was heard as a rifle shot and from that instant 
Jethou was a dead man. His Ferrari, wholly out of control and now no more than 
a mindless mechanical monster bent on its own destruction, smashed into and 
caromed off the nearside safety barrier and, already belching gouts of red flame 
and black oily smoke, careered wildly across the track to strike the far side 
barrier, rear end first, at a speed of still over a hundred miles an hour. The 
Ferrari, spinning wildly, slid down the track for about two hundred yards, turned 
over twice and came to rest on all four wrecked wheels, Jethou still trapped in 
the cockpit but even then almost certainly dead. It was then that the red flames 
turned to white. 

That Harlow had been directly responsible for Jethou’s death was beyond 
dispute but Harlow, with eleven Grand Prix wins behind him in seventeen 
months was, by definition and on his record, the best driver in the world and one 
simply does not indict the best driver in the world. It is not the done thing. The 
whole tragic affair was attributed to the race-track equivalent of an act of God 
and the curtain was discreetly lowered to indicate the end of the act. 


The French, even at their most relaxed and unemotional, are little given to 
hiding their feelings and the packed crowd at Clermont-Ferrand that day, which 
was notably unrelaxed and highly emotional, was in no mood to depart from 
their Latin norm. As Harlow, head bowed, trudged rather than walked along the 
side of the Coronado pits, they became very vocal indeed. Their booing, hissing, 
cat-calling and just plain shouts of anger, accompanied by much Gallic waving 
of clenched fists, was as threatening as it was frightening. Not only was it an 
ugly scene, it was one that looked as if it would only require one single flash¬ 
point to trigger off a near riot, to convert their vengeful emotions towards 
Johnny Harlow into physical action against him and this, it was clear, was the 
apprehension that was uppermost in the minds of the police, for they moved in 
close to afford Harlow such protection as he might require. It was equally clear 
from the expressions on their faces that the police did not relish their task, and 
from the way they averted their faces from Harlow that they sympathized with 
their countrymen’s feelings. 

A few paces behind Harlow, flanked by Dunnet and MacAlpine, walked 
another man who clearly shared the opinions of police and spectators. Angrily 
twirling his racing helmet by its strap, he was clad in racing overalls identical to 
those that Harlow was wearing: Nicolo Tracchia was, in fact, the No. 2 driver in 
the Coronado racing team. Tracchia was almost outrageously handsome, with 
dark curling hair, a gleaming perfection of teeth that no dentifrice manufacturer 
would ever dare use as an advertisement and a sun-tan that would have turned a 
life-guard pale green. That he wasn’t looking particularly happy at that moment 
was directly attributable to the fact that he was scowling heavily: the legendary 
Tracchia scowl was a memorable thing of wonder, in constant use and held in 
differing degrees of respect, awe and downright fear but never ignored. Tracchia 
had a low opinion of his fellow-man and regarded the majority of people, and 
this with particular reference to his fellow Grand Prix drivers, as retarded 

Understandably, he operated in a limited social circle. What made matters 
worse for Tracchia was his realization that, brilliant driver though he was, he 
was fractionally less good than Harlow, and even this was exacerbated by the 
knowledge that, no matter how long or desperately he tried, he would never 
quite close that fractional gap. When he spoke now to MacAlpine he made no 
effort to lower his voice which in the circumstances mattered not at all for 
Harlow could not possibly have heard him above the baying of the crowd: but it 

was quite clear ‘that Tracchia would not have lowered his voice no matter what 
the circumstances. 

‘An act of God!’ The bitter incredulity in the voice was wholly genuine. 

‘Jesus Christ! Did you hear what those cretins called it? An act of God! An act 
of murder, I call it.’ 

‘No, lad, no.’ MacAlpine put his hand on Tracchia’s shoulder, only to have it 
angrily shrugged off. MacAlpine sighed. ‘At the very outside, manslaughter. 

And not even that. You know yourself how many Grand Prix drivers have died 
in the past four years because their cars went wild.’ 

‘Wild! Wild!’ Tracchia, at a momentary and most uncharacteristic loss for 
words, gazed heavenwards in silent appeal. ‘Good God, Mac, we all saw it on 
the screen. We saw it five times. He took his foot off the brake and pulled out 
straight in front of Jethou. An act of God! Sure, sure, sure. It’s an act of God 
because he’s won eleven Grand Prix in seventeen months, because he won last 
year’s championship and looks as if he’s going to do the same this year.’ 

‘What do you mean?’ 

‘You know damn well what I mean. Take him off the tracks and you might as 
well take us all off the tracks. He’s the champion, isn’t he? If he’s that bad, then 
what the hell must the rest of us be like? We know that’s not the case, but will 
the public? Will they hell. God knows that there are already too many people, 
and damned influential people as well, agitating that Grand Prix racing should be 
banned throughout the world, and too many countries just begging for a good 
excuse to get out. This would be the excuse of a lifetime. We need our Johnny 
Harlows, don’t we Mac? Even though they do go around killing people.’ 

‘I thought he was your friend, Nikki?’ 

‘Sure, Mac. Sure he’s my friend. So was Jethou.’ 

There was no reply for MacAlpine to make to this so he made none. Tracchia 
appeared to have said his say, for he fell silent and got back to his scowling. In 
silence and in safety —the police escort had been steadily increasing-the four 
men reached the Coronado pits. 

Without a glance at or word to anyone Harlow made for the little shelter at the 
rear of the pits. In their turn nobody — Jacobson and his two mechanics were 
there also — made any attempt either to speak to or stop him, nor did any among 
them do even as much as trouble to exchange significant glances : the starkly 
obvious requires no emphasis. Jacobson ignored him entirely and came up to 
MacAlpine. The chief mechanic — and he was one of acknowledged genius — 
was a lean, tall and strongly built man. He had a dark and deeply lined face that 

looked as if it hadn’t smiled for a long time and wasn’t about to make an 
exception in this case either. 

He said : 'Harlow’s clear, of course.’ 

'Of course? I don’t understand.’ 

‘I have to tell you? Indict Harlow and you set the sport back ten years. Too 
many millions tied up in it to allow that to happen. Isn’t there now, Mr. 

Mac Alpine?’ 

MacAlpine looked at him reflectively, not answering, glanced briefly at the 
still scowling Tracchia, turned away and walked across to Harlow’s battered and 
fire-blistered Coronado which was by that time back on all four wheels. He 
examined it leisurely, almost contemplatively, stooped over the cockpit, turned 
the steering wheel which offered no resistance to his hand, then straightened. 

He said : 'Well, now. I wonder.’ 

Jacobson looked at him coldly. His eyes, expressing displeasure, could be as 
formidable and intimidating as Tracchia’s scowl. He said : 'I prepared that car, 
Mr. MacAlpine.’ 

MacAlpine’s shoulders rose and fell in a long moment of silence. 

‘I know, Jacobson, I know. I also know you’re the best in the business. I also 
know that you’ve been too long 'in it to talk nonsense. Any car can go. How 

‘You want me to start now?’ 

‘That’s it.’ 

‘Tour hours.’ Jacobson was curt, offence given and taken. ‘Six at the most.’ 

MacAlpine nodded, took Dunnet by the arm, prepared to walk away, then 
halted. Tracchia and Rory were together talking in low indistinct voices but their 
words didn’t have to be understood, the rigid hostility in their expressions as 
they looked at Harlow and his bottle of brandy inside the hut were eloquent 
enough. MacAlpine, his hand still on Dunnet’s arm, moved away and sighed 

‘Johnny’s not making too many friends today, is he?’ 

‘He hasn’t been for far too many days. And I think that here’s another friend 
that he’s about not to make.’ 

‘Oh Jesus.’ Sighs seemed to be becoming second nature to MacAlpine. 
‘Neubauer does seem to ‘have something on his mind.’ 

The figure in sky-blue racing overalls striding towards the pits did indeed 
seem to have something on his mind. Neubauer was tall, very blond and 
completely Nordic in appearance although he was in fact Austrian. The No. 1 

driver for team Cagliari — he had the word Cagliari emblazoned across the 
chest of his overalls — his consistent brilliance on the Grand Prix tracks had 
made him the acknowledged crown prince of racing and Harlow’s eventual and 
inevitable successor. Like Tracchia, he was a cool, distant man wholly incapable 
of standing fools at any price, far less gladly. Like Tracchia, his friends and 
intimates were restricted to a very small group indeed : it was a matter for 
neither wonder nor speculation that those two men, the most unforgiving of 
rivals on the race-tracks were, off-duty, close friends. 

Neubauer, with compressed lips and cold pale-blue eyes glittering, was 
clearly a very angry man and his humour wasn’t improved when MacAlpine 
moved his massive bulk to block his way. Neubauer had no option other than to 
stop : big man though he was MacAlpine was very much bigger. When he spoke 
it was with his teeth clamped together. 

‘Out of my way.’ 

MacAlpine looked at him in mild surprise. 

‘You said what?’ 

‘Sorry, Mr. MacAlpine. Where’s that bastard Harlow?’ 

‘Leave him be. He’s not well.’ 

‘And Jethou is, I suppose? I don’t know who the hell or what the hell Harlow 
is or is supposed to be and I don’t care. Why should that maniac get off scot- 
free? He is a maniac. You know it. We all know it. He forced me off the road 
twice today, that could just as well have been me burnt to death as Jethou. I’m 
giving you warning, Mr. MacAlpine. I’m going to call a meeting of the GPDA 
and have him banned from the circuits.’ 

‘You’re the last person who can afford to do that, Willi.’ MacAlpine put his 
hands on Neubauer’s shoulders, the last person who can afford to put the finger 
on Johnny. If Harlow goes, who’s the next champion?’ 

Neubauer stared at him. Some of the fury left his face and he stared at 
MacAlpine in almost bewildered disbelief. When his voice came it was low, 
almost an uncertain whisper. ‘You think I would do it for that, Mr. MacAlpine?’ 

‘No, Willi, I don’t. I’m just pointing out that most others would.’ 

There was a long pause during which what was left of Neubauer’s anger died 
away. He said quietly: ‘He’s a killer. He’ll kill again.’ Gently, he removed 
MacAlpine’s hands, turned and left the pits. Thoughtfully, worriedly Dunnet 
watched him leave. 

‘He could be right, James. Sure, sure, he’s won five Grand Prix in a row but 
ever since his brother was killed in the Spanish Grand Prix — well, you know.’ 

‘Five Grand Prix under his belt and you’re trying’ to tell me that his nerve is 

‘I don’t know what’s gone. I just don’t know. All I know is that the safest 
driver on the circuits has become so reckless and dangerous, so suicidally 
competitive if you like, that the other drivers are just plain scared of him. As far 
as they are concerned, the freedom of the road is his, they’d rather live than 
dispute a yard of track with him. That’s why he keeps on winning.’ 

MacAlpine regarded Dunnet closely and shook his head in unease. He, 
MacAlpine, and not Dunnet, was the acknowledged expert, but MacAlpine held 
Dunnet and his opinions in the highest regard. Dunnet was an extraordinarily 
shrewd, intelligent and able person. He was a journalist by profession, and a 
highly competent one, who had switched from being a political analyst to a 
sports commentator for .the admittedly unarguable reason that there is no topic 
on earth so irretrievably dull as politics. The acute penetration and remarkable 
powers of observation and analysis that had made him so formidable a figure on 
the Westminster scene he had transferred easily and successfully to the race- 

tracks of the world. A regular correspondent for a British national daily and two 
motoring magazines, one British, one American — although he did a remarkable 
amount of free-lance work on the side —he had rapidly established himself as 
one of the very few really outstanding motor racing journalists in the world. To 
do this in the space of just over two years had been a quite outstanding 
achievement by any standard. So successful had he been, indeed, that he had 
incurred the envy and displeasure, not to say the outright wrath, of a 
considerable number of his less gifted peers. 

Nor was their minimal regard for him in any way heightened by what they 
sourly regarded as the limpet-like persistency with which he had attached 
himself to the Coronado team on an almost permanent basis. Not that there were 
any laws, written or unwritten, about this sort of behaviour, for no independent 
journalist had ever done this sort of thing before. Now that it had been done it 
was, his fellow-writers said, a thing that simply was not done. It was his job, 
they maintained and complained, to write in a fair and unbiased fashion on all 
the cars and all the drivers in the Grand Prix field and their resentment remained 
undiminished when he pointed out to them, reasonably and with unchallengeable 
accuracy, that this was precisely what he did. What really grieved them, of 
course, was that he had the inside track on the Coronado team, then the fastest 
burgeoning and most glamorous race company in the business : and it would 
have been difficult to deny that the number of off-track articles he had written 
partly about the team but primarily about Harlow would have made up a pretty 
fair-size volume. Nor had matters been helped by the existence of a book on 
which he had collaborated with Harlow. 

MacAlpine said: ‘I’m afraid you’re right, Alexis. Which means that I know 
you’re right but I don’t even want to admit it to myself. He’s just terrifying the 
living daylights out of everyone. And out of me. And now this.’ 

They looked across the pits to where Harlow was sitting on a bench just 
outside the shelter. Uncaring whether he was observed or not, he half-filled a 
glass from a rapidly diminishing brandy bottle. One did not have to have 
eyesight to know that the hands were still shaking: diminishing though the 
protesting roar of the crowd still was, it was still sufficient to make normal 
conversation difficult: nevertheless, the Castanet rattle of glass against glass 
could be clearly heard. Harlow took a quick gulp from his glass then sat there 
with both elbows on his knees and stared, unthinkingly and without expression, 
at the wrecked remains of his car. 

Dunnet said: ‘And only two months ago he’d never touched the hard stuff in 

his life. What are you going to do, James?’ 

‘Now?’ MacAlpine smiled faintly. Tm going to see; Mary. I think by this 
time they might let me in to see her.’ He glanced briefly, his face seemingly 
impassive,around the pits, at Harlow lifting his glass again, at the red-haired 
Rafferty twins looking almost as unhappy as Dunnet, and at Jacobson, Tracchia 
and Rory wearing; uniform scowls and directing them in uniform directions, 
sighed for the last time, turned and walked heavily away. 

Mary MacAlpine was twenty-two years old, pale complexioned despite the 
many hours she spent in the sun, with big brown eyes, gleamingly brushed black 
hair as dark as night and the most bewitching smile that ever graced a Grand 
Prix racing track: she did not intend that the smile should be bewitching, she just 
couldn’thelp it. Everyone in the team, even the taciturn and terrible-tempered 
Jacobson, was in love with her in one; way or another, not to mention a quite 
remarkable number of other people who were not in the team : this Mary 
recognized and accepted with commendable aplomb, although without either 
amusement or condescension: condescension was quite alien to her nature. In 
any event, she viewed the regard that others had for her as only the natural 
reciprocal of the regard she had for them: despite her quick no-nonsense mind, 
Mary MacAlpine was in many ways still very young. 

Lying in bed in that spotless, soullessly antiseptic’ hospital room that night, 
Mary MacAlpine looked younger than ever.. She also looked, as she 
unquestionably was, very ill. The natural paleness had turned to pallor and the 
big brown eyes which she opened only briefly and reluctantly, were dulled with 
pain.. This same pain was reflected in MacAlpine’s eyes as he looked down at 
his daughter, at the heavily splinted and bandaged left leg lying on top of the 
sheet. MacAlpine stooped and kissed his daughter on the forehead. 

He said: ‘Sleep well, darling. Good night.’ 

She tried to smile. ‘With all the pills they’ve given me? Yes, I think I will. 
And Daddy.’ 


‘It wasn’t Johnny’s fault. I know it wasn’t. It was his car. I know it was.’ 

‘We’re finding that out. Jacobson is taking the car down.’ 

‘You’ll see. Will you ask Johnny to come and see me?’ 

‘Not tonight, darling. I’m afraid he’s not too well.’ 

‘He-he hasn’t been-’ 

‘No, no. Shock.’ MacAlpine smiled. ‘He’s been fed the same, pills as 


‘Johnny Harlow? In shock? I don’t believe it. Three near-fatal crashes and he 
never once —’ 

‘He saw you, my darling.’ He squeezed her hand. ‘I’ll be around later 

MacAlpine left the room and walked down to the reception area. A doctor was 
speaking to the nurse at the desk. He had grey hair, tired eyes and the face of an 
aristocrat. MacAlpine said : ‘Are you the person who is looking after my 

‘Mr. MacAlpine? Yes, I am. Dr Chollet.’ 

‘She seems very ill.’ 

‘No, Mr. MacAlpine. No problem. She is just under heavy sedation. For the 
pain, you understand.’ 

‘I see. How long will she be —’ 

Two weeks. Perhaps three. No more.’ 

‘One question, Dr Chollet. Why is her leg not in traction ?’ 

‘It would seem, Mr. MacAlpine, that you are not a man who is afraid of the 

‘Why is her leg not in traction?’ 

Traction is for broken bones, Mr. MacAlpine. Your daughter’s left ankle bone, 
I’m afraid, is not just broken, it is — how would you say it in English? — 
pulverized, yes I think that is the word, pulverized beyond any hope of remedial 
surgery. What’s left of the bone will have to be fused together.’ 

‘Meaning that she can never bend her ankle again?’ Chollet inclined his head. 
‘A permanent limp? For life?’ 

‘You can have a second opinion, Mr. MacAlpine. The best orthopaedic 
specialist in Paris. You are entitled — ‘ 

‘No. That will not be necessary. The truth is obvious, Dr Chollet. One accepts 
the obvious.’ ‘ 

‘I am deeply sorry, Mr. MacAlpine. She is a lovely child. But I am only a 
surgeon. Miracles? No. No miracles.’ 

‘Thank you, Doctor. You are most kind. I’ll be back in about say —two 

‘Please not. She will be asleep for at least twelve hours. Perhaps sixteen.’ 

MacAlpine nodded his head in acceptance and left. 

Dunnet pushed away his plate with his untouched meal, looked at 
MacAlpine’s plate, similarly untouched, then at the brooding MacAlpine. 

He said : 'I don’t think either of us, James, is as tough as we thought we 

‘Age, Alexis. It overtakes us all.’ 

‘Yes. And at very high speed, it would seem.’ Dunnet pulled his plate towards 
him, regarded it sorrowfully then pushed it away again. 

‘Well, I suppose it’s a damn sight better than amputation.’ 

There’s that. There’s that.’ MacAlpine pushed back his chair. ‘A walk, I think, 

‘For the appetite? It won’t work. Not with me.’ 

‘Nor with me. I just thought it might be interesting to see if Jacobson has 
turned up anything.’ 

The garage was very long, low, heavily skylighted, brilliantly lit with hanging 
spotlights and, for a garage, was remarkably clean and tidy. Jacobson was at the 
inner end, stooped over Harlow’s wrecked Coronado, when the metal door 
screeched open. He straightened, acknowledged the presence of Mac Alpine and 
Dunnet with a wave of his hand, then returned to his examination of the car. 

‘ Dunnet closed the door and said quietly: ‘Where are the other mechanics?’ 

MacAlpine said: ‘You should know by this time. Jacobson always works 
alone on a crash job. Avery low opinion of other mechanics, has Jacobson. Says 
they either overlook evidence or destroy it by clumsiness.’ 

The two men advanced and watched in silence as Jacobson tightened a 
connection in the hydraulic brake line. They were not alone in watching him. 
Directly above them, through an open skylight, the powerful lamps in the garage 
reflected on something metallic. The metallic object was a hand-held eight 
millimetre camera and the hands that held them were very steady indeed. They 
were the hands of Johnny Harlow. His face was as impassive as his hands were 
motionless, intent and still and totally watchful. It was also totally sober. 

MacAlpine said: ‘Well?’ 

Jacobson straightened and tenderly massaged an obviously aching back. 

‘Nothing. Just nothing. Suspension, brakes, engine, transmission, tyres, 
steering-all OK.’ 

‘But the steering?’ 

‘Sheared. Impact fracture. Couldn’t be anything else. It was still working 
when he pulled out in front of Jethou. You can’t tell me that the steering 
suddenly went in that one second of time, Mr. MacAlpine. Coincidence is 
coincidence, but that would be just a bit too much.’ 

Dunnet said : ‘So we’re still in the dark?’ 

‘It’s broad daylight where I stand. The oldest reason in the business. Driver 

‘Driver error.’ Dunnet shook his head.-’Johnny Harlow never made a driver 
error in his life.’ 

Jacobson smiled, his eyes cold. ‘I’d like to have the opinion of Jethou’s ghost 
on that one.’ 

MacAlpine said : This hardly helps. Come on. Hotel. You haven’t even eaten 
yet, Jacobson.’ He looked at Dunnet. ‘A night-cap in the bar, I think, then a look- 
in on Johnny.’ 

Jacobson said : ‘You’ll be wasting your time, sir He’ll be paralytic.’ 

MacAlpine looked at Jacobson consideringly, then said very slowly and after 
a long pause: ‘He’s still world champion. He’s still Coronado’s number one.’ 

‘So that’s the way of it, is it?’ 

‘You want it some other way?’ 

Jacobson crossed to a sink, began to wash his hands. Without turning he said: 
‘You’re the boss, Mr. MacAlpine.’ 

MacAlpine made no reply. When Jacobson had dried his hands the three men 
left the garage in silence, closing the heavy metal door behind them. 

Only the top half of Harlow’s head and supporting hands were visible as he 
clung to the ridge-pole of the garage’s V-roof and watched the three men walk up 
the brightly lit main street. As soon as they had turned a corner and disappeared 
from sight, he slid gingerly down towards the opened skylight, lowered himself 
through the opening and felt with his feet until he found a metal crossbeam. He 
released his grip on the skylight sill, balanced precariously on the beam, brought 
out a small flashlight from an inner pocket — Jacobson had switched off all the 
lights before leaving-and directed it downwards. The concrete floor was about 
nine feet below him. 

Harlow stooped, reached for the beam with his hands, slid down over it, hung 
at the full stretch of his hand, then released his grip. He landed lightly and easily, 
headed for the door, switched on ah the lights then went directly to the 
Coronado. He was carrying not one but two strap-hung cameras, his eight 
millimetre cine and a very compact still camera with flashlight attachment. 

He found an oily cloth and used it to rub clean part of the right suspension, a 
fuel line, the steering linkage and one of the carburettors in the engine 
compartment. Each of these areas he flash-photographed several times with the 
still camera. He retrieved the cloth, coated it with a mixture of oil and dirt from 
the floor, swiftly smeared the parts he had photographed and threw the cloth into 

a metal bin provided for that purpose. 

He crossed to the door and tugged on the handle, but to no avail. The door had 
been locked from the outside and its heavy construction precluded any thought 
or attempt to force it: and Harlow’s last thought was to leave any trace of his 
passing. He looked quickly around the garage. 

On his left hand side was a light wooden ladder suspended from two right- 
angle wall brackets —a ladder almost certainly reserved for the cleaning of the 
very considerable skylight area. Below it, and to one side, lay, in a corner, the 
untidy coil of a towrope. 

Harlow moved to the corner, picked up the rope, lifted the ladder off its 
brackets, looped the rope round the top rung and placed the ladder against the 
metal cross-beam. He returned to the door and switched off the lights. Using his 
flashlight, he climbed up the ladder and straddled the beam. Grasping the ladder 
while still maintaining his grip on the rope, he manoeuvred the former until the 
lower end hooked on to one of the right-angle wall brackets. Using the looped 
rope, he lowered the other end of the ladder until, not without some difficulty, he 
managed to drop it into the other bracket. He released one end of the rope, pulled 
it clear of the ladder, coiled it up and threw it into the corner where it had been 
previously lying. Then, swaying dangerously, he managed to bring himself 
upright on the beam, thrust himself head and shoulders through the opened 
skylight, hauled himself up and disappeared into the night above. 

MacAlpine and Dunnet were seated alone at a table in an otherwise deserted 
lounge bar. They were seated in silence as a waiter brought them two scotches. 
MacAlpine raised his glass and smiled without humour. ‘When you come to the 
end of a perfect day. God, I’m tired.’ 

‘So you’re committed, James. So Harlow goes on’ Thanks to Jacobson. Didn’t 
leave me much option, did he?’ 

Harlow, running along the brightly lit main street, stopped abruptly. The street 
was almost entirely deserted except for two tall men approaching his way. 

Harlow hesitated, looked around swiftly, then pressed into a deeply recessed 
shop entrance. He stood there immobile as the two men passed by: they were 
Nicolo Tracchia, Harlow’s team-mate, and Willi Neubauer, engrossed in low¬ 
voiced and clearly very earnest conversation. Neither of them saw Harlow. They 
passed by. Harlow emerged from the recessed doorway, looked cautiously both 
ways, waited until the retreating backs of Tracchia and Neubauer had turned a 
corner, then broke into a run again. 

MacAlpine and Dunnet drained their glasses. MacAlpine looked 

questioningly at Dunnet. Dunnet said: Well, I suppose we’ve got to face it some 

Mac Alpine said : ‘I suppose.’ Both men rose, nodded to the barman, and left. 

now moving at no more than a fast walk, crossed the street in the direction of 
a neon-signed hotel. Instead of using the main entrance, he went down a side 
alleyway, turned to his right and started to climb a fire-escape two steps at a 
time. His steps were as sure-footed as a mountain goat, his balance immaculate, 
his face registering no emotion. Only his eyes registered any expression. They 
were clear and still but possessed an element of clear-eyed and concentrated 
calculation. It was the face of a dedicated man who knew completely what he 
was about. 

MacAlpine and Dunnet were outside a door, numbered 412. MacAlpine’s face 
registered a peculiar mixture of anger and concern. Dunnet’s face, oddly, showed 
only unconcern. It could have been tight-lipped unconcern, but then Dunnet was 
habitually a tight-lipped man. MacAlpine hammered loudly on the door. The 
hammering brought no reaction. MacAlpine glanced furiously at his bruising 
knuckles, glanced at Dunnet and started a renewed assault on the door. Dunnet 
had no comment to make, either vocally or facially. 

Harlow reached a platform on the fourth-floor fire-escape. He swung over the 
guard-railing, took a long step towards a nearby open window, negotiated die 
crossing safely and passed inside. The room was small. A suitcase lay on the 
floor, its contents spilled out in considerable disarray. On die bedside table stood 
a low-wattage lamp, which gave the only weak illumination in the room, and a 
half empty bottle of whisky. Harlow closed and locked the window to the 
accompaniment of a violent tattoo of knocks on the door. MacAlpine’s outraged 
voice was very loud and clear. 

‘Open up! Johnny! Open up or I’ll break the bloody door in.’ 

Harlow pushed both cameras under the bed. He tore off his black leather 
jacket and black roll-neck pullover and thrust them both after the cameras. He 
then took a quick swill of whisky, split a little in the palm of his hand and rubbed 
it over his face. 

The door burst open to show MacAlpine’s outstretched right leg, the heel of 
which he’d obviously used against the lock. Both MacAlpine and Dunnet 
entered, then stood still. Harlow, clad only in shirt and trousers and still wearing 
his shoes, was stretched out in bed, apparently in an almost coma-like condition. 
His arm dangled over the side of the bed, his right hand clutching the neck of the 
whisky bottle. MacAlpine, grim-faced and almost incredulous, approached the 

bed, bent over Harlow, sniffed in disgust and removed the bottle from Harlow’s 
nerveless hand He looked at Dunnet, who returned his expressionless glance. 

MacAlpine said: The greatest driver in the world.’ 

‘Please James. You said it yourself. It happens to all of them. Remember? 
Sooner or later, it happens to them all.’ 

‘But Johnny Harlow?’ 

‘Even to Johnny Harlow.’ 

MacAlpine nodded. Both men turned and left the room, closing the broken 
door behind them. Harlow opened his eyes, rubbed his chin thoughtfully. His 
hand stopped moving and he sniffed his palm. He wrinkled his nose in distaste. 


As the crowded weeks after the Clermont-Ferrand race rushed by there 
appeared to be little change in Johnny Harlow. Always a remote, withdrawn and 
lonely figure, remote and withdrawn he still remained, except that he was now 
more lonely than ever. In his great days, at the peak of his powers and the height 
of his fame, he had been a man relaxed to the point of abnormality, his inner self 
under iron control: and so, in his quietness, he seemed to be now, as aloofly 
remote and detached as ever, those remarkable eyes — remarkable in the quality 
of their phenomenal eyesight, not in appearance — as clear and calm and 
unblinking as ever and the aquiline face quite devoid of expression. 

The hands were still now, hands that bespoke a man at peace with himself, but 
it would seem likely that the hands belied and did not bespeak for it seemed 
equally that, he was not at peace with himself and never would be again for to 
say that Johnny Harlow’s fortunes steadily declined from that day he had killed 
Jethou and crippled Mary one would be guilty of a sad misuse of the English 
language. They hadn’t declined, they had collapsed with what must have been 
for him — and most certainly for his great circle of friends, acquaintances and 
admirers — a complete and shattering finality. 

Two weeks after the death of Jethou — and this before his own home British 
crowd who had come, almost to a man, to forgive him for the dreadful insults 
and accusations heaped upon him by the French press and to cheer their idol 
home to victory —he had suffered the indignity, not to say the humiliation, of 
running off the track in the very first lap. He had caused no damage either to 
himself or any spectator but his Coronado was a total write-off. As both front 
tyres had burst it was assumed that at least one of them had gone before the car 
had left the track: there could not, it was agreed, have been any other explanation 
for Harlow’s abrupt departure into the wilderness. This agreement was not quite 
universal. Jacobson, predictably, had privately expressed his opinion that the 
accepted explanation was a very charitable assumption indeed. Jacobson was 
becoming very attached to the phrase ‘driver error’. 

Two weeks after that, at the German Grand Prix — probably the most difficult 
circuit in Europe but one of which Harlow was an acknowledged master—the air 
of gloom and despondency that hung like a thundercloud over the Coronado pits 
was almost palpable enough, almost visible enough to take hold of and push to 
one side-were it not for the fact that this particular cloud was immovable. The 
race was over and the last of the Grand Prix cars had vanished to complete the 
final circuit of the track before coming into their pits. 

MacAlpine, looking both despondent and bitter, glanced at Dunnet, who 
lowered his eyes, bit his lower lip and shook his head. MacAlpine looked away 
and lost himself in his own private thoughts. Mary sat on a canvas chair close 
beside them. Her left leg was still in heavy plaster and crutches were propped up 
against her chair. She held a lap-time note-pad in one hand, a stop watch and 
pencil in the other. She was gnawing a pencil and her pale face held the 
expression of one who was pretty close to tears. Behind her stood Jacob-son, his 
two mechanics, and Rory. Jacobson’s face, if his habitual saturnine expression 
were excepted, was quite without expression. His mechanics, the red-haired 
Rafferty twins, wore, as usual, identical expressions, in this case a mixture of 
resignation and despair. Rory’s face registered nothing but a cold contempt. 

Rory said: 'Eleventh out of twelve finishers! Boy, what a driver. Our world 
champion — doing his lap of honour, I suppose.’ 

Jacobson looked at him speculatively. 

'A month ago he was your idol, Rory.’ 

Rory looked across at his sister. She was still gnawing her pencil, the 
shoulders were drooped and the tears in her eyes were now unmistakable. Rory 
looked back at Jacobson and said: That was a month ago.’ 

A lime-green Coronado swept into the pits, braked and stopped, its crackling 
exhaust fading away into silence. Nicolo Tracchia removed his helmet, produced 
a large silk handkerchief, wiped his matinee-idol face and started to remove his 
gloves. He looked, and with reason, particularly pleased with himself, for he had 
just finished second and that by only a car’s length. MacAlpine crossed to him 
and patted the still-seated Tracchia on the back. 

'A magnificent race, Nikki. Your best ever —and on this brute of a course. 
Your third second place in five times out.’ He smiled. 'You know, I’m beginning 
to think that we may make a driver of you yet.’ 

Tracchia grinned hugely and climbed from the car. 

‘Watch me next time out. So far, Nicolo Tracchia hasn’t really been trying, 
just trying to improve the performance of those machines our chief mechanic 
mins for us between races.’ He smiled at Jacobson, who grinned back : despite 
the marked differences in the natures and interests, there was a close affinity 
between the two men. ‘Now, when it comes to the Austrian Grand Prix in a 
couple of weeks — well, I’m sure you can afford a couple of bottles of 

MacAlpine smiled again and it was clear that though the smile did not come 
easily its reluctance was net directed against Tracchia. In the space of one brief 

month MacAlpine, even though he still couldn’t conceivably be called a thin 
person, had noticeably lost weight in both body and face, the already trenched 
lines in the latter seemed to have deepened and it was possible even to imagine 
an increase in the silver on that magnificent head of hair. It was difficult to 
imagine that even the precipitous fall from grace of his superstar could have 
been responsible for so dramatic a change but it was equally difficult to imagine 
that there could have been any other reason. MacAlpine said: 

‘Overlooking the fact, aren’t we, that there’ll be a real live Austrian at the 
Austrian Grand Prix. Chap called Willi Neubauer. You have heard of him?’ 

Tracchia was unperturbed. ‘Austrian our Willi may be, but the Austrian Grand 
Prix is not his circuit. He’s never come in better than fourth. I’ve been second in 
the last two years.’ He glanced away as another Coronado entered the pits then 
looked back at MacAlpine. ‘And you know who came in first both times. ‘ 

Yes, I know.’ MacAlpine turned away heavily and approached the other car as 
Harlow got out, removed his helmet, looked at his car and shook his head. When 
MacAlpine spoke there was no bitterness or anger or accusation in either voice 
or face, just a faint resignation and despair. 

‘Well, Johnny, you can’t win them all.’ Harlow said: ‘Not with this car I 
can’t.’ ‘Meaning?’ 

‘Loss of power in the higher revs.’ Jacobson had approached and his face was 
still without expression as he heard Harlow’s explanation. He said: ‘From the 

‘No. Nothing to do with you, Jake, I know that. It was bloody funny. Kept 
coming and going. At least a dozen times I got full power back. But never for 
long.’ He turned away and moodily examined his car again. Jacobson glanced at 
MacAlpine, who gave him an all but imperceptible nod. 

By dusk that evening the race-track was deserted, the last of the crowds and 
officials gone. MacAlpine, a lonely and brooding figure, his hands thrust deeply 
in the pockets of his tan gaberdine suit, stood at the entrance of the Coronado 
pits. He wasn’t, however, quite as alone as he might justifiably have imagined. 

In the neighbouring Cagliari pits a figure clad in a dark roll-neck pullover and 
dark leather jacket stood hidden in a shadowed corner. Johnny Harlow had a 
remarkable capacity for maintaining an absolute stillness and that capacity he 
was employing to the full at that moment. But apart from those two figures the 
entire track seemed quite empty of life. 

But not of sound. There came the deepening clamour of the sound of a Grand 
Prix engine and a Coronado, lights on, appeared from the distance, changed 

down through the gears, slowed right down as it passed the Cagliari pits and 
came to a halt outside the entrance to the Coronado pits. Jacobson climbed out 
and removed his helmet. 

MacAlpine said: ‘Well?’ 

‘Damn all the matter with the car.’ His tone was neutral but his eyes were 
hard. ‘Went like a bird. Our Johnny certainly knows how to use his imagination. 
We’ve got something more than just driver error here, Mr. MacAlpine.’ 

MacAlpine hesitated. The fact that Jacobson had made a perfect lap circuit 
was no proof of anything one way or another. In the nature of things he would 
have been unable to drive the Coronado at anything like the speed Harlow had 
done. Again, the fault may have occurred only when the engine had heated to its 
maximum and it was unlikely that Jacobson could have reached that in a single 
lap: finally, those highly-bred racing engines, which could cost up to eight 
thousand pounds, were extraordinarily fickle creatures and quite capable of 
developing and clearing up their own faults without the hand of man going 
anywhere near them. Jacobson, inevitably, regarded MacAlpine’s silence as 
either doubt or outright agreement. He said: ‘Maybe you’re coming round to my 
way of thinking, Mr. MacAlpine?’ 

MacAlpine didn’t say whether he was or he wasn’t. He said instead: ‘Just 
leave the car where she is. We’ll send Henry and the two boys down with the 
transporter to pick it up. Come along. Dinner. I think we’ve earned it. And a 
drink. I think we’ve earned that, too. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever earned so 
many drinks as I have in the past four weeks.’ 

‘I wouldn’t disagree with you on that, Mr. MacAlpine.’ 

MacAlpine’s blue Aston Martin lay parked in the rear of the pits. Both men 
climbed in and drove off down the track. 

Harlow watched the car depart. If he had been disturbed by the conclusions 
Jacobson had arrived at or MacAlpine’s apparent acceptance of them no signs of 
any such anxiety were reflected in his untroubled face. He waited until the car 
had disappeared into the gathering darkness, looked round carefully to make sure 
that he was entirely alone and unobserved, then moved into the back of the 
Cagliari pits. There he opened a canvas bag he was carrying, produced a flat- 
based lamp-light with a large swivelling head, a hammer, cold chisel and 
screwdriver and set them on top of the nearest crate. He pressed the switch on 
the handle of the lamp-light and a powerful white beam illuminated the back of 
the Cagliari pits. A flick on the lever on the base of the swivelling head and the 
white dazzle was at once replaced by a red muted glow. Harlow took hammer 

and chisel in hand and set resolutely to work. 

Most of the crates and boxes did not, in fact, have to be forced for the esoteric 
collection of engine and chassis spares inside them could not conceivably have 
been of any interest to any passing thief : he almost certainly wouldn’t have 
known what to look for and, in the remote event of his so knowing, he would 
quite certainly have been unable to dispose of them. The few crates that Harlow 
did have to open he did so carefully, gently and with the minimum of noise. 

Harlow spent the minimum of time on his examination, presumably because 
delay always increased the danger of discovery. He also appeared to know 
exactly what he was looking for. The contents of some boxes were disposed of 
with only the most cursory of glances : even the largest of the crates merited no 
more than a minute’s inspection. Within half an hour after beginning the 
operation he had begun to close all the crates and boxes up again. Those he had 
been compelled to force open he closed with a cloth-headed hammer to reduce 
noise to a minimum and leave the least perceptible traces of his passing. When 
he was finished, he returned his torch and tools to the canvas bag, emerged from 
the Cagliari pits and walked away into the near darkness. If he was disappointed 
with the results of his investigation he did not show it: but, then, Harlow rarely 
showed any emotion. 

Fourteen days later Nicolo Tracchia achieved what he promised MacAlpine 
he would achieve-the ambition of his life. He won the Austrian Grand Prix. 
Harlow, by now predictably, won nothing. Worse, not only did he not finish the 
race, he hardly even began it, achieving only four more laps than he had in 
England — and there he had crashed on the first lap. 

He had begun well enough. By any standards, even his own, he had made a 
brilliantly successful start and was leading the field by a clear margin after the 
end of the fifth lap. Next time round he pulled his Coronado into the pits. As he 
stepped out of his car he seemed normal enough with no trace of undue anxiety 
and nothing even closely resembling a cold sweat. But he had his hands thrust 
deeply into his overall pockets and his fists were tightly balled: this way you 
can’t tell whether a man’s hands are shaking or not. He removed one hand long 
enough to make a dismissive gesture towards all the pit crew —with the 
exception of the still chair-borne Mary —who came hurrying towards him. 

‘No panic.’ He shook his head. ‘And no hurry. Fourth gear’s gone.’ He stood 
looking out moodily over the track. MacAlpine stared at him closely then looked 
at Dunnet who nodded without even appearing to have seen the glance that 
MacAlpine had directed at him. Dunnet was staring at the clenched hands inside 

Harlow’s pockets. 

MacAlpine said: ‘We’ll pull Nikki in. You can have his car.’ 

Harlow didn’t answer immediately. There came the sound of an approaching 
racing engine and Harlow nodded towards the track. The others followed his line 
of sight. A lime-green Coronado flashed by but still Harlow stared out over the 
track. At least another fifteen seconds elapsed, before the next car, Neubauer’s 
royal blue Cagliari came by. Harlow turned and looked at MacAlpine. Harlow’s 
normally impassive face had come as near as it was possible for it to register a 
degree of incredulity. 

‘Pull him in? Good God, Mac, are you mad? Nikki’s got fifteen clear seconds 
now that I’m out There’s no way he can lose. Our Signor Tracchia would never 
forgive me — or you — if you were to pull him in now. It’ll be his first Grand 
Prix — and the one he most wanted to win.’ 

Harlow turned and walked away as if the matter was settled. Both Mary and 
Rory watched him go, the former with dull misery in her eyes, the latter with a 
mixture of triumph and contempt at which he was at no pains at all to conceal. 
MacAlpine hesitated, made as if to speak, then he too turned and walked away, 
although in a different direction. Dunnet accompanied him. The two men halted 
in a corner of the pits. 

MacAlpine said: ‘Well?’ 

Dunnet said: Well what, James?’ 

‘Please. I don’t deserve that from you.’ 

‘You mean, did I see what you saw? His hands?’ 

Tie’s got the shakes again.’ MacAlpine made a long pause then sighed and 
shook his head. ‘I keep on saying it. It happens to them all. No matter how cool 
or brave or brilliant — hell, I’ve said it all before. And when a man has icy calm 
and iron control like Johnny —well, when the break comes it’s liable to be a 
pretty drastic one.’ 

‘And when does the break come?’ 

‘Pretty soon, I think. I’ll give him one more Grand Prix. Do you know what 
he’s going to do now? Later tonight, rather-he’s become very crafty about it.’ 

‘I don’t think I want to know.’ 

‘He’s going to hit the bottle.’ 

A voice with a very powerful Glasgow accent said: the word is that he already 

Both MacAlpine and Dunnet turned slowly round. Coming out of the 
shadows of the hut behind was a small man with an incredibly wizened face, 

whose straggling white moustache contrasted oddly with his monk’s tonsure. 
Even odder was the long, thin and remarkably bent black cigar protruding from 
one corner of his virtually toothless mouth. His name was Henry, he was the 
transporter’s old driver — long long past retiring age — and the cigar was his 
trademark. It was said that he occasionally ate with the cigar in his mouth. 

MacAlpine said without inflection: 'Eavesdropping, eh?’ 

'Eavesdropping! ‘It was difficult to say whether Henry’s tone and expression 
reflected indignation or incredulity but in either event they were on an Olympian 
scale. ‘You know very well that I would never eavesdrop, Mr. MacAlpine. I was 
just listening. There’s a difference.’ 

‘What did you say just now?’ 

‘I know you heard what I said.’ Henry was still splendidly unperturbed. ‘You 
know that he’s driving like a madman and that all the other drivers are getting 
terrified of him. In fact, they are terrified of him. He shouldn’t be allowed on a 
race-track again. The man’s shot, you can see that. And in Glasgow, when we 
say that a man’s shot, we mean — ‘ 

Dunnet said : ‘We know what you mean. I thought you were a friend of his, 

‘Aye, I’m all that. Finest gentleman I’ve ever known, begging the pardon of 
you two gentlemen. It’s because I’m his friend that I don’t want him killed - or 
had up for manslaughter.’ 

MacAlpine said without animosity: ‘You stick to your job of running the 
transporter, Henry : I’ll stick to mine of running the Coronado team.’ 

Henry nodded and turned away, gravity in his face and a certain carefully 
controlled degree of outrage in his walk as if to say he’d done his duty, delivered 
his witch’s warning and if that warning were not acted upon the consequences 
weren’t going to be his, Henry’s, fault. MacAlpine, his face equally grave, 
mbbed his cheek thoughtfully and said : ‘He could be right at that. In fact, I have 
every reason for thinking he is.’ 

‘Is what, James?’ 

‘On the skids. On the rocks. Shot, as Henry would say.’ 

‘Shot by whom? By what?’ 

‘Chap called Bacchus, Alexis. The chap that prefers using booze to bullets.’ 

‘You have evidence of this?’ 

‘Not so much evidence of his drinking as lack of evidence of his not drinking. 
Which can be just as damning.’ 

‘Sorry, don’t follow. Can it be that you have been holding out on me, James?’ 

MacAlpine nodded and told briefly of his duplicity in the line of duty. It was 
just after the day that Jethou had died and Harlow had shown his lack of 
expertise both in pouring and drinking brandy that MacAlpine had first 
suspected that Harlow had forgone his lifelong abstention from alcohol. There 
had been, of course, no spectacular drinking bouts, for those would have been 
automatically responsible for having him banned from the race-tracks of the 
world: a genius for avoiding company, he just went about it quietly, steadily, 
persistently and above all secretly, for Harlow always drank alone, almost 
invariably in out of the way places, usually quite remote, where he stood little or 
no chance of being discovered. This MacAlpine knew for he had hired what was 
practically a full-time investigator to follow him but Harlow was either 
extremely lucky or, aware of what was going on —he was a man of quite 
remarkable intelligence and must have suspected the possibility of his being 
followed — extremely astute and skilled in his avoidance of surveillance, for he 
had been tracked down only three times to sources of supply, small Weinstuben 
lost in the forests near the Hockenheim and Nurburgring circuits. Even on those 
occasions he had been observed to be sipping, delicately and with what appeared 
to be commendable restraint, a small glass of hock which was hardly sufficient 
to blunt even the highly-tuned faculties and reactions of a Formula One driver: 
what made this elusiveness all the more remarkable was that Harlow drove 
everywhere in his flame-red Ferrari, the most conspicuous car on the roads of 
Europe. But that he went to such extraordinary — and extraordinarily successful 
— lengths to escape surveillance was, for MacAlpine, all the circumstantial 
evidence he required that Harlow’s frequent, mysterious and unexplained 
absences coincided with Harlow’s frequent and solitary drinking bouts. 
MacAlpine finished by saying that a later and more sinister note had crept in: 
there was now daily and incontrovertible evidence that Harlow had developed a 
powerful affinity for scotch. 

Dunnet was silent until he saw that MacAlpine apparently had no intention of 
adding to what he had said. 'Evidence?’ he said, 'What kind of evidence?’ 

‘Olfactory evidence.’ 

Dunnet paused briefly then said: ‘Eve never smelt anything.’ 

MacAlpine said kindly: That, Alexis, is because you are not capable of 
smelling anything. You can’t smell oil, you can’t smell fuel, you can’t smell 
burning tyres. How do you expect to be able to smell scotch?’ 

Dunnet inclined his head in acknowledgment. He said : ‘Have you smelt 

MacAlpine shook his head. 

‘Well, then.’ 

MacAlpine said: ‘He avoids me like the plague nowadays — and you know 
how close Johnny and myself used to be. Whenever he does get close to me he 
smells powerfully of menthol throat tablets. Doesn’t that say something to you?’ 

‘Come off it, James. That’s no evidence.’ 

‘Perhaps not. But Tracchia, Jacobson and Rory swear to it.’ 

‘Oh, brother, are they unbiased witnesses. If Johnny is forced to step down 
who’s going to be Coronado’s number one driver with a good chance of being 
the next champion? Who but our Nikki. Jacobson and Johnny have never been 
on good terms and now the relationship is going from bad to worse: Jacobson 
doesn’t like having his cars smashed up and what he likes even less is Harlow’s 
contention that the smashes have nothing to do with him which brings into 
question Jacobson’s ability to prepare a car thoroughly. As for Rory, well, 
frankly, he hates Johnny Harlow’s guts: partly because of what Johnny did to 
Mary, partly because she’s never allowed the accident to make the slightest 
difference in her attitude towards him. I’m afraid, James, that your daughter is 
the only person left on the team who is still totally devoted to Johnny Harlow.’ 

‘Yes, I know.’ MacAlpine was momentarily silent then said dully: ‘Mary was 
the first person to tell me.’ 

‘Oh, Jesus!’ Dunnet looked miserably out on the track and without looking at 
MacAlpine said: ‘You’ve no option now. You have to fire him. For preference, 

‘You’re forgetting, Alexis, that you’ve just learnt this while I’ve known it for 
some time. My mind has been made up. One more Grand Prix,’ 

The parking lot, in the fading light, looked like the last resting place of the 
behemoths of a bygone age. The huge transporters that carried the racing cars, 
spare parts and portable workshops around Europe, parked, as they were, in a 
totally haphazard fashion, loomed menacingly out of the gloom. They were 
completely devoid of life as evinced by the fact that no light showed from any of 
them. The car park itself ,was equally deserted except for a figure that had just 
appeared from out of the gathering dusk and passed through the entrance to the 
transporter parking lot. 

Johnny Harlow made no apparent attempt to conceal his presence from any 
chance observer, if any such there had been. Swinging his little canvas bag he 
made his way diagonally across the parking lot until he brought up at one of the 
huge behemoths: written large on the side and back was the word FERRARI. He 

didn’t even bother to try the door of the transporter but produced a bunch of 
curiously shaped keys and had the door open in a matter of a few seconds. He 
passed inside and closed and locked -the door behind him. For five minutes he 
did nothing other than move from window to window on either side of the 
transporter checking patiently, continuously, to see if his unauthorized entrance 
had been observed. It was apparent that it had not been. Satisfied, Harlow 
withdrew the flash-lamp from the canvas bag, switched on the red beam, stooped 
over the nearest Ferrari racing car and began to examine it minutely. 

There were about thirty people in the hotel lobby that evening. Among them 
were Mary MacAlpine and her brother, Henry and the two red-haired Rafferty 
twins. The sound level of the conversation was notably high: the hotel had been 
taken over for the weekend by several of the Grand Prix teams and the racing 
fraternity is not particularly renowned for its inhibitions. All of them, mainly 
drivers but with several mechanics, had discarded their workaday clothes and 
were suitably attired for their evening meal which was as yet an hour distant. 
Henry, especially, was exceptionally resplendent in a grey pin-striped suit with a 
red rose in his buttonhole. Even his moustache appeared to have been combed. 
Mary sat beside him with Rory a few feet away, reading a magazine, or at least 
appearing to do so. Mary sat silently, unsmiling, constantly gripping and twisting 
one of the walking sticks to which she had now graduated. Suddenly, she turned 
to Henry. 

‘Where does Johnny go each evening. We hardly ever see him after dinner 

‘Johnny?’ Henry adjusted the flower in his buttonhole. ‘No idea, miss. Maybe 
he prefers his own company. Maybe he finds the food better elsewhere. Maybe 

Rory still held the magazine before his face. Clearly however he was not 
reading for his eyes were very still. But, at the moment, his whole being was not 
in his eyes but in his ears. 

Mary said : ‘Maybe it’s not just the food that he finds better elsewhere.’ 

‘Girls, miss? Johnny Harlow’s not interested in girls.’ He leered at her in what 
he probably imagined to be a roguish fashion in keeping with the gentlemanly 
splendour of his evening wear. ‘Except for a certain you-know-who.’ 

‘Don’t be such a fool.’ Mary MacAlpine was not always milk and roses. ‘You 
know what I mean.’ 

‘What do you mean, miss?’ 

‘Don’t be clever with me, Henry.’ 

Henry assumed the sad expression of the continuously misjudged. 

‘I’m not clever enough to be clever with anybody . 5 

Mary looked at him in cold speculation then abruptly turned away. Rory just 
as quickly averted his own head. He was looking very thoughtful indeed and the 
expression superimposed upon the thoughtfulness could hardly be described as 

Harlow, the hooded red light giving all the illumination he required, probed 
the depths of a box of spares. Suddenly, he half straightened, cocked his head as 
if to listen, switched off the torch, went to a side window and peered out. The 
evening darkness had deepened until it was now almost night, but a yellowish 
half-moon drifting behind scattered cloud gave just enough light to see by. Two 
men were heading across the transporter park, heading straight towards the 
Coronado unit, which was less than twenty feet from where Harlow stood 
watching. There was no difficulty at all in identifying them as MacAlpine and 
Jacobson. Harlow made his way to the Ferrari transporter’s door, unlocked it and 
cautiously opened it just sufficiently to give him a view of the Coronado 
transporter’s door. MacAlpine was just inserting his key in the lock. MacAlpine 
said : 

'So there’s no doubt then. Harlow wasn’t imagining things. Fourth gear is 


‘So he may be in the clear after all?’ There was a note almost of supplication 
in MacAlpine’s voice. 

There’s more than one way of stripping a gear.’ Jacobson’s tone offered very 
little in the way of encouragement. 

‘There’s that, I suppose, there’s that. Come on, let’s have a look at this 
damned gear-box.’ 

Both men passed inside and lights came on. Harlow, unusually half-smiling, 
nodded slowly, closed and gently locked the door and resumed his search. He 
acted with the same circumspection as he had in the Cagliari pits, forcing open 
crates and boxes, when this was necessary, with the greatest of care so that they 
could be closed again to show the absolute minimum of offered violence. He 
operated with speed and intense concentration, pausing only once at the sound of 
a noise outside. He checked the source of the noise, saw MacAlpine and 
Jacobson descending the steps of the Coronado transporter and walk away across 
the deserted compound. Harlow returned to his work. 


When Harlow finally returned to the hotel, the lobby, which also served as the 
bar, was crowded with hardly a seat left vacant and a group of at least a dozen 
men pressing in close against the bar. MacAlpine and Jacob-son were sitting at a 
table with Dunnet. Mary, Henry and Rory were still sitting in the same seats. As 
Harlow closed the street door behind him, the dinner gong sounded —it was that 
kind of small country hotel, deliberately so styled, where everyone ate at the 
same time or not. at all. It was a great convenience to management and staff 
though somewhat less so to the guests. The guests were rising as Harlow made 
his way across the lobby towards the stairs. Nobody greeted him, few even 
bothered to look at him. MacAlpine, Jacobson and Dunnet ignored him entirely. 
Rory scowled at him in open contempt. Mary glanced briefly at him, bit her lip 
and quickly looked away again. Two months previously it would have taken 
Johnny Harlow five minutes to reach the foot of those stairs. That evening he 
made it in under ten seconds. If he was in any way dismayed by his reception he 
hid ‘his concern well. His face was as impassive as that of a wooden Indian’s. 

Arrived in his bedroom, he washed cursorily, combed his hair, crossed to a 
cupboard, reached for a high shelf, brought down a bottle of scotch, went into 
the bathroom, sipped some of the scotch, swirled it round his mouth then 
grimaced and spat it out. He left the glass, with its still almost untouched 
contents, on the basin ledge, returned the bottle to the cupboard and made his 
way down to the dining-room. 

He was the last arrival. A complete stranger entering would have been paid 
more attention than was accorded to him. Harlow was no longer the person to be 
seen with. The dining-room was pretty well filled but not to capacity. Most of 
the tables held four people, a handful held only two. Of the tables that held four 
people, only three had as few as three people at them. Of the tables for two, only 
Henry sat alone. Harlow’s mouth quirked, so briefly, perhaps even involuntarily, 
that it could have been more imagined than seen, then, without hesitation, he 
crossed the dining-room and sat down at Henry’s table. 

Harlow said : ‘May I, Henry?’ 

‘Be my guest, Mr. Harlow.’ Henry was cordiality itself, and cordial he 
remained throughout the meal, talking at length on a wide variety of utterly 
inconsequential subjects which, try as he might, Harlow found of only minimal 
interest. Henry’s intellectual reach was normally limited in its nature and Harlow 
found that it was only with considerable difficulty that he could keep up his 
conversational end against Henry’s pedestrian platitudes. To make matters worse 

he had to listen to Henry’s observations from a distance of about six inches, an 
aesthetic ordeal in itself, as at even a distance of several yards Henry could not, 
with all charity, have been called photogenic. But Henry appeared to have 
considered this close-range exchange of intimacies as essential and, in the 
circumstances, Harlow would have found it hard to disagree with him. The 
silence in the dining-room that evening was more in the nature of a cathedral 
hush, one that could not have been attributed to a beatific enjoyment of die food 
which was of a standard to earn for the Austrians the most astronomical odds 
against in the culinary stakes. It was plain to Harlow, as it was plain to all 
present, that the very fact of his being there had an almost totally inhibitory 
effect on normal conversation. Henry, consequently, considered it prudent to 
lower his voice to a graveyard whisper that could not be heard beyond the 
confines of their table which in turn necessitated this very personal face-to-face 
approach. Harlow felt but did not express his profound relief when the meal was 
over: Henry also suffered from a severe case of halitosis. 

Harlow was among the last to rise. He drifted aimlessly into the now again 
crowded lobby. He stood there in apparent irresolution, quite ignored and 
glancing idly around. Mary he saw there, and Rory, while at the far end of the 
lobby MacAlpine was engaged with, what appeared to be some form of 
desultory conversation with Henry. 

MacAlpine said: ‘Well?’ 

Henry was wearing his self-righteous expression. ‘Smelled like a distillery, 

MacAlpine smiled faintly. ‘Coming from Glasgow, you should know 
something about those things. A good job. I owe you an apology, Henry.’ 

Henry inclined his head. ‘Granted, Mr. MacAlpine.’ 

Harlow averted his head from this tableau. He hadn’t heard a word of the 
exchange but then he didn’t have to hear it. Suddenly, like a man making up his 
mind, he headed for the street door. Mary saw him go, looked around to see if 
she was being observed, came to the apparent conclusion that she wasn’t, 
gathered up her two sticks and limped after him. Rory, in his turn, waited for 
about ten seconds after his sister’s departure then drifted aimlessly towards the 

Five minutes later Harlow entered a cafe and took a seat at an empty table 
where he could keep an eye on the entrance. A pretty young waitress 
approached, opened her eyes and then smiled charmingly. There were few young 
people of either sex in Europe who did not recognize Harlow on sight. 

Harlow smiled back. Tonic and water, please.’ 

The eyes opened even wider. T beg your pardon, sir.’ 

Tonic and water.’ 

The waitress, whose opinion of world champion drivers had clearly suffered a 
sudden revision, brought the drink. He sipped it occasionally, keeping an eye on 
the entrance door, then frowned as the door opened and Mary, clearly in a very 
apprehensive mood, entered the cafe. She saw Harlow at once, limped across the 
room and sat down at the table. 

She said: ‘Hallo, Johnny,’ in the voice of one who was far from sure of her 

‘I must say I’d expected someone else.’ 

‘You what?’ 

‘Someone else.’ 

‘I don’t understand. Who-’ 

‘No matter.’ Harlow’s tone was as brusque as his words. ‘Who sent you here 
to spy on me?’ 

‘Spy on you? Spy on you?’ She stared at him, the expression on her face one 
of lack of understanding rather than incredulity. ‘What on earth can you mean?’ 

Harlow remained implacable. ‘Surely you know what the word ‘spy’ means?’ 

‘Oh, Johnny!’ The hurt in the big brown eyes was as unmistakable as that in 
the voice. ‘You know I’d never spy on you.’ 

Harlow relented, but only marginally, then why are you here?’ 

‘Aren’t you pleased just to see me?’ 

That’s neither here nor there. What are you doing in this cafe?’ 

‘I was — I was just passing by and —’ 

‘And you saw me and came in.’ Abruptly he pushed back his chain and rose. 
‘Wait here.’ 

Harlow went to the front door, glanced at it briefly and opened it, stepping 
just outside. He turned and looked for several seconds back up the way he had 
come, then turned round and looked down the street. But his interest lay in 
neither direction, but in a doorway directly across the street. A figure stood there, 
pushed back deeply into the recess. Without appearing to have noticed him, 
Harlow re-entered the cafe, closed the door behind him and returned to his seat. 

He said: ‘Aren’t you lucky to have -those X-ray eyes. Frosted glass all the 
way and yet you see me sitting here.’ 

‘All right, Johnny.’ She sounded very weary. ‘I followed you. I’m worried. 

I’m dreadfully worried.’ 

‘Aren’t we all now and again. You should see me out on those race-tracks at 
times.’ He paused, then added with apparent inconsequence: ‘Was Rory still in 
the hotel when you left?’ 

She blinked her puzzlement. ‘Yes. Yes he was. I saw him. Just as I was 

‘Could he have seen you?’ 

‘That’s a funny question.’ 

‘I’m a funny fellow. Ask anyone around the racetracks. Could he have seen 

‘Well, yes, I suppose he could. Why-why all this concern about Rory?’ 

T wouldn’t like the poor little lad to be abroad in the streets at night and 
maybe catch a chill. Or maybe even get mugged.’ Harlow paused consideringly, 
there’s a thought, now.’ 

‘Oh, stop it, Johnny! Stop it! I know, Well I know he can’t stand the sight of 
you, won’t even speak to you ever since — ever since —’ 

‘Ever since I crippled you.’ 

‘Oh, dear God!’ The distress in the face was very real. ‘He’s my brother, 
Johnny, but he’s not me. Can I help it if — look, whatever his grudge, can’t you 
forget it? You’re the kindest man in die world, Johnny Harlow —’ 

‘Kindness doesn’t pay, Mary.’ 

‘You still are. I know you are. Can’t you forget it? Can’t you forgive him? 
You’re big enough, much more than big enough. Besides, he’s only a boy. 

You’re a man. What danger is he to you? What harm can he do you?’ 

‘You should see what harm a dangerous nine-year-old can do in Vietnam 
when he has a rifle in his hands.’ 

She pushed her chair back. The tonelessness in her voice belied the tears in 
her eyes. She said: ‘Please forgive me. I shouldn’t have bothered you. Good 
night, Johnny.’ 

He laid a gentle hand on her wrist and she made no move to withdraw it, 
merely sat waiting there with a numbed despair on her face. He said : ‘Don’t go. 
I just wanted to make sure of something.’ 


‘Oddly, it doesn’t matter any more. Let’s forget about Rory. Let’s talk of you.’ 
He called to the waitress. ‘Same again, please.’ 

Mary looked at the freshly filled glass. She said: ‘What’s that? Gin? Vodka?’ 

‘Tonic and water.’ 

‘Oh, Johnny!’ 

Will you kindly stop ‘Oh, Johnnying me’.’ It was impossible to tell whether 
the irritation in his voice was genuine or not. Wow then. You say you are worried 
as if you have to tell anyone that, far less me. Let me guess at your worries, 

Mary. I would say that there are five of them, Rory, yourself, your father, your 
mother and me.’ She made as if to speak but he waved her to silence. ‘You can 
forget about Rory and his antagonism to me. A month from now and he’ll think 
it was all a bad dream. Then yourself — and don’t deny you are worried about 
our, shall we say, relationship : those things tend to mend but they take time. 
Then there’s your father and mother and, well, me again. I’m. about right?’ 

‘You haven’t talked to me like this for a long long time.’ 

Does that mean I’m about right?’ 

She nodded without speaking. 

‘Your father. I know he’s not looking well, that he’s lost weight. I suggest that 
he’s worried about your mother and me, very much in that order.’ 

‘My mother,’ she whispered. ‘How did you know about that? Nobody knows 
about that except Daddy and me.’ 

‘I suspect Alexis Dunnet may know about it, they’re very close friends, but I 
can’t be sure. But your father told me, over two months ago. He trusted me, I 
know, in the days when we were still on speaking terms.’ 

‘Please, Johnny.’ 

‘Well, I suppose that’s better than ‘Oh, Johnny’. In spite of all that’s passed, I 
believe he still does. Please don’t tell him that I told you because I said I’d tell 
no one. Promise?’ 


‘Your father hasn’t been very communicative in the past two months. 
Understandably. And I hardly felt I was in a position to ask him questions. No 
progress, no trace of her, no message since she left your Marseilles home three 
months ago?’ 

‘Nothing, nothing.’ If she’d been the type to wring her hands she’d have done 
just that. ‘And she used to phone every day she wasn’t with us, write every week 
and now we —’ 

‘And your father has tried everything?’ 

‘Daddy’s a millionaire. Don’t you think he would have tried everything?’ 

‘I should have thought so. So. You’re worried. What can I do?’ 

Mary briefly drummed her fingers on the table and looked up at him. Her eyes 
were masked in tears. She said: ‘You could remove his other main worry.’ 


Mary nodded. 

At that precise moment MacAlpine was very actively concerned in 
investigating his other main worry. He and Dunnet were standing outside a hotel 
bedroom door, with MacAlpine inserting a key in the lock. Dunnet looked 
around him apprehensively and said: ‘I don’t think the receptionist believed a 
word you said.’ 

‘Who cares?’ MacAlpine turned the key in the lock. ‘I got Johnny’s key, 
didn’t I?’ 

‘And if you hadn’t?’ 

‘I’d have kicked his damned door in. I’ve done it before, haven’t I?’ 

The two men entered, closed and locked the door behind them. Wordlessly 
and methodically, they began to search Harlow’s room, looking equally in the 
most likely as unlikely places - and in a hotel room the number of places 
available for concealment to even the most imaginative is very limited. Three 
minutes and their search was over, a search that had been as rewarding as it was 
deeply dismaying. The two men gazed down in a brief and almost stunned 
silence at the haul on Harlow’s bed — four full bottles of scotch and a fifth half 
full. They looked at each other and Dunnet summed up their feelings in a most 
succinct fashion indeed. 

He said, ‘Jesus!’ 

MacAlpine nodded. Unusually for him, he seemed at a total loss for words. 

He didn’t have to say anything for Dunnet to understand and sympathize with his 
feelings for the vastly unpleasant dilemma in which MacAlpine now found 
himself. He had committed himself to giving Harlow his last chance ever and 
now before him he had all the evidence he would ever require to justify Harlow’s 
instant dismissal. 

‘Dunnet said: ‘So what do we do?’ 

‘We take that damn poison with us, that’s what we do.’ MacAlpine’s eyes 
were sick, his low voice harsh with strain. 

‘But he’s bound to notice. And at once. From what we know of him now the 
first thing he’ll do on return is head straight for the nearest bottle.’ 

‘Who the hell cares what he does or notices? What can he do about it? More 
importantly, what can he say about it? He’s not going to rush down to the desk 
and shout: ‘I’m Johnny Harlow. Someone’s just stolen five bottles of scotch 
from my room.’ He won’t be able to do or say a thing.’ 

‘Of course he can’t But he’ll still know the bottles are gone. What’s he going 
to think about that?’ 

‘Again, who cares what that young dipsomaniac thinks? Besides, why should 
it have been us. If we had been responsible, he’d expect the heavens to fall in on 
him the moment he returns. But they won’t. We won’t say a word —yet. Could 
have been any thief posing as a member of the staff. Come to -that, it wouldn’t 
have been the first genuine staff member with a leaning towards petty larceny.’ 

‘So our little bird won’t sing?’ 

‘Our little bird can’t. Damn him. Damn him. Damn him.’ 

Too late, my Mary,’ Harlow said. ‘Can’t drive no more. Johnny Harlow’s on 
the skids. Ask anyone.’ 

‘I don’t mean that and you know it. I mean your drinking.’ 

‘Me? Drink?’ Harlow’s face was its usual impassive self. ‘Who says that?’ 


‘Everybody’s a liar.’ 

As a remark, it was a guaranteed conversation-stopper. A tear fell from 
Mary’s face on to her wrist watch but if Harlow saw it he made no comment. By 
and by Mary sighed and said quietly : ‘I give up. I was a fool to try. Johnny, are 
you coming to the Mayor’s reception tonight?’ 


‘I thought you’d like to take me. Please.’ 

‘And make you a martyr? No.’ 

‘Why don’t you come? Every other race driver does.’ 

‘I’m not every other driver. I’m Johnny Harlow. I’m a pariah, an outcast. I 
have a delicate and sensitive nature and I don’t like it when nobody speaks to 

Mary put both her hands on his. ‘I’ll speak to you, Johnny, you know I always 

‘I know.’ Harlow spoke without either bitterness or irony. ‘I cripple you for 
life and you’ll always speak to me. Stay away from me, young Mary. I’m 

There are some poisons I could get to like very much indeed.’ 

Harlow squeezed her hand and rose. ‘Come on. You have to get dressed for 
this do tonight. I’ll see you back to the hotel.’ 

They emerged from the cafe, Mary using her walking stick with one hand 
while with the other she clung to Harlow’s arm. Harlow, carrying the other stick, 
had slowed his normal pace to accommodate Mary’s limp. As they moved 
slowly up the street, Rory MacAlpine emerged from the shadows of the recessed 
doorway opposite the cafe. He was shivering violently in the cold night air but 

seemed to be entirely unaware of this. 

Judging from the look of very considerable satisfaction on his face, Rory had 
other and more agreeable matters on his mind than the temperature. He crossed 
the street, followed Harlow and Mary at a discreet distance until he came to the 
first road junction. He turned right into this and began to run. 

By the time he had arrived back at the hotel, he was no longer shivering but 
sweating profusely for he had not stopped running all the way. He slowed down 
to cross the lobby and mount the stairs, went to his room, washed, combed his 
hair, straightened his tie, spent a few moments in front of his mirror practising 
his sad but dutiful expression until he thought he had it about right, then walked 
across towards his father’s room. He knocked, received some sort of mumbled 
reply and went inside. 

James MacAlpine’s suite was, by any odds, the most comfortable in the hotel. 
As a millionaire, MacAlpine could afford to indulge himself: as both a man and 
a millionaire he saw no reason why he shouldn’t. But MacAlpine wasn’t 
indulging in any indulgence at that moment, nor, as he sat far back in an over¬ 
stuffed armchair did he appear to be savouring any of the creature comforts 
surrounding him. He appeared, instead, to be sunk in some deep and private 
gloom from which he roused himself enough to look up almost apathetically as 
his son closed the door behind him. 

‘Well, my boy, what is it? Couldn’t it wait until the morning?’ 

‘No, Dad, it couldn’t.’ 

‘Out with it, then. You can see I’m busy.’ 

‘Yes, Dad, I know.’ Rory’s sad but dutiful expression remained in position. 
‘But there’s something I felt I had to tell you.’ He hesitated as if embarrassed at 
what he was about to say. ‘It’s about Johnny Harlow, Dad.’ 

‘Anything you have to say about Harlow will be treated with the greatest 
reserve.’ Despite the words, a degree of interest had crept into MacAlpine’s 
thinning features. ‘We all know what you think of Harlow.’ 

‘Yes, Dad. I thought of that before I came to see you.’ Rory hesitated again. 
‘You know this thing about Johnny Harlow, Dad? The stories people are telling 
about his drinking too much.’ 

‘Well?’ MacAlpine’s tone was wholly non-committal. It was with some 
difficulty that Rory managed to keep his pious expression from slipping: this 
was going to be much more difficult than he expected. 

‘It’s true. The drinking, I mean. I saw him in a pub tonight.’ 

‘Thank you, Rory, you may go.’ He paused. ‘Were you in that pub too?’ 

‘Me? Come on, Dad. I was outside. I could see in, though.’ 

‘Spying, lad?’ 

‘I was passing by.’ A curt but injured tone. 

MacAlpine waved a hand in dismissal. Rory turned to go, then turned again to 
face his father. 

‘Maybe I don’t like Johnny Harlow. But I do like Mary. I like her more than 
any person in the world.’ MacAlpine nodded, he knew this to be true. ‘I don’t 
ever want to see her hurt. That’s why I came to see you. She was in that pub with 

‘What!’ MacAlpine’s face had darkened in immediate anger. 

‘Cut my throat and hope I die.’ 

‘You are sure?’ 

‘I am sure, Dad. Of course I’m sure. Nothing wrong with my eyes.’ 

‘I’m sure there’s not.’ MacAlpine said mechanically. A little, but not much, of 
the anger had left his eyes. ‘It’s just that I don’t want to accept it. Mind you, I 
don’t like spying. ‘ 

‘This wasn’t spying, Dad.’ Rory’s indignation could be of a particularly 
nauseating righteousness at times. This was detective work. When the good 
name of the Coronado team is at stake —’ 

MacAlpine lifted his hand to stop the spate of words and sighed heavily. 

‘All right, all right, you virtuous little monster. Tell Mary I want her. Now. 

But don’t tell her why.’ 

Five minutes later Rory had been replaced by a Mary who looked 
simultaneously apprehensive and defiant. She said: ‘Who told you this?’ 

‘Never mind who told me. Is it true or not?’ 

‘I’m twenty-two, Daddy.’ She was very quiet. ‘I don’t have to answer you. I 
can look after myself.’ 

‘Can you? Can you? If I were to throw you off the Coronado team? You’ve no 
money and you won’t have till I’m dead. You’ve got no place to go. You’ve no 
mother now, at least no mother you can reach. You’ve no qualifications for 
anything. Who’s going to employ a cripple without qualifications?’ 

‘I would like to hear you say those horrible things to me in front of Johnny 

‘Surprisingly, perhaps, I won’t react to that one. I was just as independent at 
your age, more so, I guess, and taking a poor view of parental authority.’ He 
paused, then went on curiously: You in love with this fellow?’ 

tie’s not a fellow. He’s Johnny Harlow.’ MacAlpine raised an eyebrow at the 

intensity in her voice. ‘As for your question, am I never to be allowed any areas 
of privacy in my life ? 5 

‘All right, all right.’ MacAlpine sighed. ‘A deal. If you answer my questions 
then I’ll tell you why I’m asking them. OK?’ 

She nodded. 

‘Fine. True or false?’ 

‘If your spies are certain of their facts, Daddy, then why bother asking me?’ 

‘Mind your tongue.’ The reference to spies had touched MacAlpine to the 

‘Apologize for saying ‘mind your tongue’ to me.’ 

‘Jesus!’ MacAlpine looked at his daughter in an astonishment that was 
compounded half of irritation, half of admiration. ‘You must be my daughter. I 
apologize. Did he drink?’ 



‘I don’t know. Something clear. He said it was tonic and water.’ 

‘And -that’s the kind of liar you keep company with. Tonic and bloody water! 
Stay away from him, Mary. If you don’t, it’s back home to Marseille for you.’ 

‘Why, Daddy? Why? Why? Why?’ 

‘Because God knows I’ve got enough trouble of my own without having my 
only daughter tying herself up to an alcoholic with the skids under him.’ 

‘Johnny! Alcoholic! Look, Daddy, I know he drinks a little-’ 

MacAlpine silenced her by the gesture of picking up the phone. 

‘MacAlpine here. Will you ask Mr. Dunnet to come to see me? Yes. Now.’ He 
replaced the phone. ‘I said I’d tell you why I was asking those questions. I didn’t 
want to. But I’m going to have to.’ 

.Dunnet entered and closed the door behind him. He had about him the look 
of a man who was not looking forward too keenly to the next few minutes. After 
asking Dunnet to sit down he said: Tell her, Alexis, would you, please?’ 

Dunnet looked even more acutely unhappy. ‘Must I, James?’ 

‘I’m afraid so. She’d never believe me if I told her what we found in Johnny’s 

Mary looked at each in turn, sheer incredulity in her face. She said: ‘You were 
searching Johnny’s room.’ 

Dunnet took a deep breath. ‘With good reason, Mary, and thank God we did. I 
can still hardly believe it myself. We found five bottles of scotch hidden in his 
room. One of them was half empty.’ 

Mary looked at them, stricken. Clearly, she believed them all too well. When 
MacAlpine spoke, it was very gently. 

‘I am sorry. We all know how fond you are of him. We took the bottles away, 

‘You took -the bottles away.’ Her voice was slow and dull and 
uncomprehending. ‘But he’ll know. He’ll report the theft. There’ll be police. 
There’ll be fingerprints -your fingerprints. Then — ‘ 

MacAlpine said: ‘Can you imagine Johnny Harlow ever admitting to anyone 
in the world that he’d five bottles of scotch in his room? Run along, girl, and get 
dressed. We’ve got to leave for -this bloody reception in twenty minutes — 
without, it seems, your precious Johnny.’ 

She remained seated, her face quite without expression, her unblinking eyes 
irremovably fixed on MacAlpine’s. After a few moments his expression softened 
and he smiled. He said: Tm sorry. That was quite uncalled for.’ 

Dunnet held the door while she hobbled from the room. Both men watched 
her go with pity in their eyes. 


To the Grand Prix racing fraternity of the world, as to seasoned travellers 
everywhere, a hotel is a hotel is a hotel, a place to sleep, a place to eat, a 
stopover to the next faceless anonymity. The newly-built Villa- Hotel Cessni on 
the outskirts of Monza, however, could fairly claim to be an exception to the 
truism. Superbly designed, superbly built and superbly landscaped, its huge airy 
rooms with their immaculately designed furniture, their luxurious bathrooms, 
splendidly sweeping balconies, sumptuous food and warmth of service, here one 
would have thought was the caravanserai nonpareil for the better-heeled 

And so it would be, one day, but not yet. The Villa-Hotel Cessni had as yet to 
establish its clientele, its image, its reputation and, hopefully and eventually, its 
traditions and for the achievement of -those infinitely desirable ends, the fair 
uses of publicity, for luxury hotels as for hotdog stands, could be very sweet 
indeed. No sport on earth has a more international following and it was with this 
in mind that the management had deemed it prudent to invite the major Grand 
Prix teams to accommodate themselves in this palace, for a ludicrously low 
nominal fee, for the duration of the Italian Grand Prix. Few teams had failed to 
accept the invitation and fewer still cared to exercise their minds with the 
philosophical and psychological motivations of the management: all they knew 
and cared about was that the Hotel-Villa Cessni was infinitely more luxurious 
and fractionally cheaper than the several Austrian hotels they had so gratefully 
abandoned only twelve days ago. Next year, it seemed likely, they wouldn’t even 
be allowed to sleep stacked six-deep in the basement: but that was next year. 

That Friday evening late in August was warm but by no means warm enough 
to justify air-conditioning. Nevertheless, the air-conditioning in the lobby of the 
Hotel-Villa Cessni was operating at the top of its bent making the temperature in 
that luxuriously appointed haven from the lower classes almost uncomfortably 
cool. Common sense said that this interior climatic condition was wholly 
unnecessary: the prestige of an up and coming status symbol said that it was 
wholly necessary. The management was concerned with prestige to the point of 
obsession: the air-conditioning remained on. The Cessni was going to be the 
place to go when the sun rode high. 

MacAlpine and Dunnet, sitting side by side but almost concealed from each 
other’s sight by virtue of the imposing construction of the vast velvet-lined arm¬ 
chairs in which they reclined rather than sat, had more important things on their 
minds than a few degrees of temperature hither and yonder. They spoke but 

seldom and then with a marked lack of animation: they gave the air of those who 
had precious little to get animated about. Dunnet stirred. 

‘Our wandering boy is late on the road tonight.’ 

He has an excuse,’ MacAlpine said. ‘At least, I hope to hell he has. One thing, 
he was always a conscientious workman. He wanted a few more extra laps to 
adjust the suspension and gear ratios of this new car of his.’ 

Dunnet was gloomy. ‘It wouldn’t have been possible, I suppose, to give it to 
Tracchia instead?’ 

‘Quite impossible, Alexis, and you know it. The mighty law of protocol. 
Johnny’s not only Coronado’s number one, he’s still the world’s. Our dear 
sponsors, without which we couldn’t very well operate — I could, but I’ll be 
damned if I’ll lay out a fortune like that — are highly sensitive people. Sensitive 
to public opinion, that is. The only reason they paint the names of their damned 
products on the outside of our cars is that the public will go out and buy those 
same damned products. They’re not benefactors of racing except purely 
incidentally: they are simply advertisers. An advertiser wants to reach the 
biggest market. Ninety-nine point repeater nine per cent of that market lies 
outside the racing world and it doesn’t matter a damn if they know nothing about 
what goes on inside the racing world. It’s what they believe that matters. And 
they believe that Harlow still stands alone. So, Harlow gets the best and newest 
car. If he doesn’t, the public lose their faith in Harlow, in Coronado and in the 
advertisers, and not necessarily in that order.’ 

‘Ah, well. The days of miracles may not yet He behind us. After all, he hasn’t 
been observed or known to take a drink in the past twelve days. Maybe he’s 
going to surprise us all. And there’s only two days to go to the Italian Grand 

‘So why did he have those two bottles of scotch which you removed from his 
room only an hour ago?’ 

‘I could say he was trying to test his moral fibre but I don’t think you would 
believe it.’ 

‘Would you?’ 

‘Frankly, James, no.’ Dunnet relapsed into another period of gloom from 
which he emerged to say: ‘Any word from your agents in the south, James?’ 

‘Nothing. I’m afraid, Alexis, I’ve just about given up hope. Fourteen weeks 
now since Marie disappeared. It’s too long, it’s just too long. Had there been an 
accident, I would have heard. Had there been foul play, then I’m sure I would 
have heard. Had I been kidnap and ransom-well, that’s ridiculous, of course I 

would have heard. She’s just vanished. Accident, boating-I don’t know.’ 

‘And we’ve talked so often about amnesia.’ 

‘And I’ve told you so often, without immodesty, that no one as well known as 
Marie MacAlpine, no matter what her mental trouble, could go missing so long 
without being picked up.’ 

‘I know. Mary’s taking that pretty badly now, isn’t she?’ 

‘Especially in the past twelve days. Harlow. Alexis, we broke her heart — 
sorry, that’s quite unfair — I broke her heart in Austria. If I’d known how far she 
was gone — ah, but I’d no option.’ 

Taking her to the reception tonight?’ 

‘Yes. I insisted. To take her out of herself, that’s what I tell myself— or is it 
just to ease my conscience? Again, I don’t know. Maybe I’m making another 

‘It seems to me that that young fellow Harlow has a great deal to answer for. 
And this is his last chance, James? Any more crazy driving, any more fiascos, 
any more drinking - then it’s the chopper? That’s it?’ 

‘That’s entirely it.’ MacAlpine nodded in the direction of the revolving 
entrance doors. Think we should tell him now?’ 

Dunnet looked in the direction indicated. Harlow was walking across the 
Carrara-marbled flags. He was still clad in his customarily immaculate white 
racing overalls. A young and rather beautiful young girl at the desk smiled at 
him as he passed by. Harlow flicked her an expressionless glance and the smile 
froze. He continued on his way across the vast lobby and such is the respect that 
men accord the gods when they walk the earth that a hundred conversations died 
as he passed by. ‘Harlow seemed unaware of the presence of any of them, for he 
looked neither to left nor to right, but it was a safe assumption that those 
remarkable eyes missed nothing, an assumption borne out by the fact that, 
apparently without noticing them, he veered direction towards where MacAlpine 
and Dunnet sat. MacAlpine said: ‘No scotch or menthol, that’s for sure. 
Otherwise, he’d avoid me like the plague.’ 

Harlow stood before them. He said, without any inflection of irony or sarcasm 
: ‘Enjoying the quiet even-fall, gentlemen?’ 

MacAlpine answered. ‘You could say that. We might enjoy it even more if 
you could tell us how the new Coronado is coming along.’ 

‘Shaping up. Jacobson —for once —agrees with me that a slight alteration in 
the ratios and the rear suspension is all that’s necessary. It’ll be all right for 

‘No complaints, then?’ 

‘No. It’s a fine car. Best Coronado yet. And fast.’ 

‘How fast?’ 

‘I haven’t found out yet. But we equaled the lap record the last two times out.’ 

‘Well, well.’ Mac Alpine looked at his watch. ‘Better hurry. We have to leave 
for the reception in half an hour.’ 

‘I’m tired. I’m going to have a shower, two hours’ sleep, then some dinner. 
I’ve come here for the Grand Prix, not for mingling with high society.’ 

‘You definitely refuse to come?’ 

‘I refused to come last time out too. Setting a precedent, if you like.’ 

‘It’s obligatory, you know.’ 

‘In my vocabulary, obligation and compulsion are not the same things.’ 

‘There are three or four very important people present tonight especially just 
to see you.’ 

‘I know.’ 

Mac Alpine paused before speaking, ‘How do you know. Only Alexis and I 

‘Mary told me.’ Harlow turned and walked away. 

‘Well.’ Dunnet pressed his lips tightly together, the arrogant young bastard. 
Walking in here to tell us he’s just equalled the lap record without even trying. 
Thing is, I believe him. That’s why he stopped by, isn’t it?’ 

To tell me that he’s still the best in the business? Partly. Also to tell me to 
stuff my bloody reception. Also to tell me that he’ll speak to Mary whether I like 
it or not. And the final twist, to let me know -that Mary has no secrets from him. 
Where’s that damned daughter of mine?’ 

‘This should be interesting to see.’ 

‘What should be?’ 

‘To see if you can break a heart twice.’ 

Mac Alpine sighed and slumped even farther back in his arm-chair. ‘I suppose 
you’re right, Alexis, I suppose you’re right. Mind you, I’d still like to knock 
their two damned young heads together.’ 

Harlow, clad in a white bath-robe and obviously recently showered, emerged 
from the bathroom and opened up his wardrobe. He brought out a fresh suit then 
reached up to a shelf above it. Clearly, he didn’t find what he expected to and his 
eyebrows lifted. He looked in a cupboard with similarly negative results. He 
stood in the middle of the room, pondering, then smiled widely. 

He said softly: ‘Well, well, well Here we go again. Clever devils.’ 

From the still-smiling expression on his face, it was clear that Harlow didn’t 
believe his own words. He lifted the mattress, reached under, removed a flat 
half-bottle of scotch, examined and replaced it. From there he went into the 
bathroom, removed the cistern lid, lifted out a bottle of Glenfiddich malt, 
checked the level-it was about three-parts full, replaced it in a certain position 
and then put the cistern lid back in place. This he left slightly askew. He returned 
to his bedroom, put on a light grey suit and was just adjusting his tie when he 
heard the sound of a heavy engine below. He switched out the light, pulled back 
the curtains, opened his window and peered out cautiously. 

A large coach was drawn up outside the hotel entrance and the various 
drivers, managers, senior mechanics and journalists who were headed for the 
official reception were filing aboard. Harlow checked to see that all those whose 
absence that evening he considered highly desirable were, among those present, 
and they were — Dunnet, Tracchia, Neubauer, Jacobson and MacAlpine, the last 
with a very pale and downcast Mary clinging to his arm. The door closed and the 
bus moved off into the night. 

Five minutes later, Harlow sauntered up to the reception desk. Behind it was 
the very pretty young girl he’d ignored on the way in. He smiled widely at her 
— his colleagues wouldn’t have believed it — and she, recovering quickly from 
the shock of seeing the other side of Harlow’s nature, smiled in return, almost 
blushing in embarrassed pleasure. For those outside immediate racing circles, 
Harlow was still -the world’s number one. 

Harlow said : ‘Good evening.’ 

‘Good evening, Mr. Harlow, sir.’ The smile faded. ‘I’m afraid you’ve just 
missed your bus.’ 

‘I have my own private transport.’ 

The smile came back on again. ‘Of course, Mr. Harlow. How silly of me. 

Your red Ferrari. Is there something —’ 

‘Yes, please. I have four names here—MacAlpine, Neubauer, Tracchia and 
Jacobson. I wonder if you could give me their room numbers?’ 

‘Certainly, Mr. Harlow. But I’m afraid those gentlemen have all just left.’ 

‘I know. I waited until they had left.’ 

‘I don’t understand, sir. ‘ 

‘I just want to slip something under their doors. An old pre-race custom.’ 

‘You race drivers and your practical jokes.’ She’d almost certainly never seen 
a race driver until that evening but that didn’t prevent her from giving him a look 
of roguish understanding. The numbers you want are 202, 208, 204 and 206.’ 

That’s in the order of the names I gave you?’ 

‘Yes, sir.’ 

Thank you.’ Harlow touched a finger to his lips. ‘Now, not a word.’ 

‘Of course not, Mr. Harlow.’ She smiled conspiratorially at him as he turned 
away. Harlow had a sufficiently realistic assessment of his own fame to 
appreciate that she would talk for months about this brief encounter: just as long 
as she didn’t talk until that weekend was over. 

He returned to his own room, took a movie camera from a suitcase, 
unscrewed its back, carefully scratching the dull metallic black as he did so, 
removed the plate and pulled out a small miniaturized camera not much larger 
than a packet of cigarettes. He pocketed -this, re-screwed in place the back plate 
of the movie camera, replaced it in his suitcase and looked thoughtfully at the 
small canvas bag of tools that lay there. Tonight, he would not require those: 
where he was going he knew where to find all the tools and flashlights he 
wanted. He took the bag with him and left the room. 

He moved along the corridor to room 202 — MacAlpine’s room. Unlike 
Mac Alpine, Harlow did not have to resort to devious means to obtain hotel room 
keys — he had some excellent sets of keys himself. He selected one of these and 
with the fourth key the door opened. He entered and locked the door behind him. 

Having disposed of the canvas bag in the highest and virtually unreachable 
shelf in a wall wardrobe, Harlow proceeded to search the room thoroughly. 
Nothing escaped his scrutiny — MacAlpine’s clothing, wardrobes, cupboards, 
suitcases. Finally he came across a locked suitcase, so small as to be almost a 
brief-case, fastened with locks that were very strong and peculiar indeed. But 
Harlow also had a set of very small and peculiar keys. Opening the small 
suitcase presented no difficulty whatsoever. 

The interior held a kind of small travelling office, containing as it did a mass 
of papers, including invoices, receipts, cheque-books and contracts: the owner of 
the Coronado team obviously served as his own accountant. Harlow ignored 
everything except an elastic-bound bunch of expired cheque-books. He flipped 
through those quickly then stopped and stared at the front few pages of one of 
the cheque-books where all the payments were recorded together. He examined 
all four recording pages closely, shook his head in evident disbelief, pursed his 
lips in a soundless whistle, brought out his miniature camera and took eight 
pictures, two of each page. This done, he returned everything as he had found it 
and left. 

The corridor was deserted. Harlow moved down to 204 — Tracchia’s room — 

and used the same key to enter as he ‘had on MacAlpine’s door : hotel room 
keys have only marginal differences as they have to accommodate a master key: 
what Harlow had was, in fact, a master key. 

As Tracchia had considerably fewer possessions than MacAlpine, the search 
was correspondingly easier. Again Harlow encountered another, but smaller, 
brief-case, the opening of which again provided him with the minimum of 
difficulty. There were but few papers inside and Harlow found little of interest 
among them except a thin book, bound in black and red, of what appeared to be 
a list of extremely cryptic addresses. Each address, if address it were, was 
headed by a single letter, followed by two or three wholly indecipherable lines of 
letters. It could have meant something: it could have meant nothing. Harlow 
hesitated, obviously in a state of indecision, shrugged, brought out his camera 
and photographed the pages. He left Tracchia’s room in as immaculate a 
condition as he had left Mac Alpine’s. 

Two minutes later in 208, Harlow, sitting on Neubauer’s bed with a brief-case 
on his lap, was no longer hesitating. The miniature camera clicked busily away: 
the thin black and red note-book he held in his hand was identical to the one he 
had found in Tracchia’s possession. 

From there, Harlow moved on to the last of his four objectives — Jacobson’s 
room. Jacobson, it appeared, was either less discreet or less sophisticated than 
either Tracchia or Neubauer. He had two bank-books and when Harlow opened 
them he sat quite still. Jacobson’s income, it appeared from them, amounted to at 
least twenty times as much as he could reasonably expect to earn as a chief 
mechanic. Inside one of the books was a list of addresses, in plain English, 
scattered all over Europe. All those details Harlow faithfully recorded on his 
little camera. He replaced the papers in the case and the case in its original 
position and was on the point of leaving when he heard footsteps in the corridor. 
He stood, irresolute, until the footsteps came to a halt outside his door. He pulled 
a handkerchief from his pocket and was about to use it as a mask when a key 
turned in the lock. Harlow had time only to move swiftly and silently into a 
wardrobe, pulling the door quietly to behind him, when the corridor door opened 
and someone entered the room. 

From where Harlow was, all was total darkness. He could hear someone 
moving around the room but had no idea from the sound as to what the source of 
the activity might be: for all he could tell someone might have been engaged in 
exactly the same pursuit as he himself had been a minute ago. Working purely by 
feel, he folded his handkerchief cornerwise, adjusted the straight edge to a point 

just below his eyes and knotted the handkerchief behind the back of his head. 

The wardrobe door opened and Harlow was confronted with the spectacle of a 
portly, middle-aged chambermaid carrying a bolster in her hands — she’d 
obviously just been changing it for the night-time pillows. She, in turn, was 
confronted with the shadowy menacing figure of a man in a white mask. The 
chambermaid’s eyes turned up in her head. Soundlessly, without even as much as 
a sigh, she swayed and crumpled slowly towards the floor. Harlow stepped out, 
caught her before she hit the marble tiles and lowered her gently, using the 
bolster as a pillow. He moved quickly towards the opened corridor door, closed 
it, removed his handkerchief and proceeded to wipe all the surfaces he had 
touched, including the top and handle of the brief-case. Finally, he took the 
telephone off the hook and left it lying on the table. He left, pulling the door to 
behind him but not quite closing it. 

He passed swiftly along the corridor, descended the stairs at a leisurely pace, 
went to the bar and ordered himself a drink. The barman looked at him in what 
came to being open astonishment. ‘You said what, sir?’ ‘Double gin and tonic is 
what I said.’ Yes, Mr. Harlow. Very good, Mr. Harlow.’ As impassively as he 
could, die barman prepared the drink which Harlow took to a wall seat situated 
between two potted plants. He looked across the lobby with interest. There were 
some signs of unusual activity at the telephone switchboard, where the girl 
operator was showing increasing signs of irritation. A light on her board kept 
flashing on and off but she was obviously having no success in contacting the 
room number in question. Finally, clearly exasperated, she beckoned a page boy 
and said something in a low voice. The page boy nodded and crossed the lobby 
at the properly sedate pace in keeping with the advertised ambience of the Hotel- 
Villa Cessna. 

When he returned, it was at anything but a sedate pace. He ran across the 
lobby and whispered something urgently to the operator. She left her seat and 
only seconds later no less a personage than the manager himself appeared and 
hurried across the lobby. Harlow waited patiently, pretending to sip his drink 
from time to time. He knew that most people in the lobby were covertly studying 
him but was unconcerned. From where they sat he was drinking a harmless 
lemonade or tonic water. The barman, of course, knew better and it was as 
certain as that night’s sundown that one of the first things that MacAlpine would 
do on his return would be to ask for Johnny Harlow’s drink bill, on the 
convincing enough pretext that it was inconceivable for the champion to put his 
hand in his pocket for anything. 

The manager reappeared, moving with most un-managerial haste, in a sort of 
disciplined trot, reached the desk and busied himself with the telephone. The 
entire lobby was now agog with interest and expectation. Their undivided 
attention had now been transferred from Harlow to the front desk and Harlow 
took advantage of this to tip the contents of his glass into a potted plant. He rose 
and sauntered across the lobby as if heading for the front revolving doors. His 
route brought him past the side of the manager. Harlow broke step. 

He said sympathetically: Trouble?’ 

‘Grave trouble, Mr. Harlow. Very grave.’ The manager had the phone to his 
ear, obviously waiting for a call to come through, but it was still apparent that he 
was flattered that Johnny Harlow should take time off to speak to him. ‘Burglars! 
Assassins! One of our chambermaids has been most brutally and savagely 

‘Good God! Where?’ 

‘Mr. Jacobson’s room.’ 

‘Jacobson’s — but he’s only our chief mechanic. He’s got nothing worth 

‘Ah! Like enough, Mr. Harlow. But the burglar wasn’t to know that, was he?’ 

Harlow said anxiously: ‘I hope she was able to identify her attacker.’ 

‘Impossible. All she remembers is a masked giant jumping out of a wardrobe 
and attacking her. He was carrying a club, she said.’ He put his hand over the 
mouthpiece. ‘Excuse me. The police.’ 

Harlow turned, exhaled a long slow sigh of relief, walked away, passed out 
through the revolving doors, turned right and then right again, re-entered the 
hotel through one of the side doors and made his way unobserved back up to his 
own room. Here he withdrew the sealed film cassette from his miniature camera, 
replaced it with a fresh one — or one -that appeared to be fresh -unscrewed the 
back of his cine-camera, inserted the miniature and screwed home the back plate 
of the cinecamera. For good measure, he added a few more scratches to the 
dulled black metal finish. The original cassette he put in an envelope, wrote on it 
his name and room number, took it down to the desk, where the more immediate 
signs of panic appeared to be over, asked that it be put in the safe and returned to 
his room. 

An hour later, Harlow, his more conventional wear now replaced by a navy 
roll-neck pullover and leather jacket, sat waiting patiently on the edge of his bed. 
For the second time that night, he heard the sound of a heavy diesel motor 
outside, for the second time that night he switched off the light, pulled the 

curtains, opened the window and looked out. The reception party bus had 
returned. He pulled the curtains to again, switched on the light, removed the flat 
bottle of scotch from under the mattress, rinsed his mouth with some of it and 

He was descending the foot of the stairs as the reception party entered the 
lobby. Mary, reduced to only one stick now, was on her father’s arm but when 
MacAlpine saw Harlow he handed her to Dunnet. Mary looked at Harlow 
quietly and steadily but her face didn’t say anything. 

Harlow made to brush by but MacAlpine barred his way. 

MacAlpine said : the mayor was very vexed and displeased by your absence.’ 

Harlow seemed totally unconcerned by the mayor’s reactions. He said : Til 
bet he was the only one.’ 

‘You remember you have some practice laps first thing in the morning?’ 

‘I’m the person who has to do them. Is it likely that I would forget?’ 

Harlow made to move by MacAlpine but the latter blocked his way again. 

MacAlpine said: ‘Where are you going?’ 


‘I forbid you — ‘ 

‘You’ll forbid me nothing that isn’t in my contract.’ 

Harlow left. Dunnet looked at MacAlpine and sniffed. 

‘Air is a bit thick, isn’t it?’ 

‘We missed something,’ MacAlpine said. ‘We’d better go and see What it was 
we missed.’ 

Mary looked at them in turn. 

‘So you’ve already searched his room when he was put on the track. And now 
that his back is turned again you’re going to search it again. Despicable. Utterly 
despicable. You’re nothing better than a couple of — a couple of sneak-thieves.’ 
She pulled her arm away from Dunnet. ‘Leave me alone. I can find my own 

Both men watched her limp across the foyer. Dunnet said complainingly: 
‘Considering the issues involved, life or death issues, if you like, I do consider 
that a rather unreasonable attitude.’ 

‘So is love,’ MacAlpine sighed. ‘So is love.’ 

Harlow, descending the hotel steps, brushed by Neubauer and Tracchia. Not 
only did he not speak to them, for they still remained on courtesy terms, he 
didn’t even appear to see them. Both men turned and looked after Harlow. He 
was walking with that over-erect, over-stiff posture of the slightly inebriated who 

are making too good a job of trying to pretend that all is well. Even as they 
watched, Harlow made one barely perceptible and clearly unpremeditated 
stagger to one side, but quickly recovered and was back on an over-straight 
course again. Neubauer and Tracchia exchanged glances, nodded to each other 
briefly, just once. Neubauer went into the hotel while Tracchia moved off after 

The earlier warm night air had suddenly begun to chill, the coolness being 
accompanied by a slight drizzle. This was to Tracchia’s advantage. City-dwellers 
are notoriously averse to anything more than a slight humidity in the 
atmosphere, and although the Hotel-Villa Cessni was situated in what was really 
nothing more than a small village, the same urban principle applied : with the 
first signs of rain the streets began to clear rapidly : the danger of losing Harlow 
among crowds of people decreased almost to nothingness. The rain increased 
steadily until finally Tracchia was following Harlow through almost deserted 
streets. This, of course, increased the chances of detection should Harlow choose 
to cast a backward glance but it became quickly evident that Harlow had no 
intention of casting any backward glances: he had about him the fixed and 
determined air of a man who was heading for a certain objective and backward 
glances were no part of his forward-looking plans. Tracchia, sensing this, began 
to move up closer until he was no more than ten yards behind Harlow. 

Harlow’s behaviour was becoming steadily more erratic. He had lost his 
ability to pursue a straight line and was beginning to weave noticeably. On one 
occasion he staggered in against a recessed doorway shop window and Tracchia 
caught a glimpse of Harlow’s reflected face, head shaking and eyes apparently 
closed. But he pushed himself off and went resolutely if unsteadily on his way. 
Tracchia closed up even more, his face registering an expression of mingled 
amusement, contempt and disgust. The expression deepened as Harlow, his 
condition still deteriorating, lurched round a street corner to his left. 

Temporarily out of Tracchia’s line of vision, Harlow, all signs of insobriety 
vanished, moved rapidly into the first darkened doorway round the corner. From 
a back pocket he withdrew an article not normally carried by racing drivers — a 
woven leather black-jack with a wrist thong. Harlow slipped the thong over his 
hand and waited. 

He had little enough time to wait. As Tracchia rounded the corner the 
contempt on his face gave way to consternation when he saw that the ill-lit street 
ahead was empty. Anxiously, he increased his pace and within half a dozen paces 
was passing by the shadowed and recessed doorway where Harlow waited. 

A Grand Prix driver needs timing, accuracy and eyesight. All of those Harlow 
had in super-abundance. Also he was extremely fit. Tracchia lost consciousness 
instantly. Without as much as a glance at it, Harlow stepped over the prostrate 
body and strode briskly on his way. Only, it wasn’t the way he had been going. 
He retraced his tracks for about a quarter of a mile, turned left and almost at 
once found himself in the transporter parking lot. It seemed extremely unlikely 
that Tracchia, when he came to, would have even the slightest idea as to where 
Harlow had been headed. 

Harlow made directly for the nearest transporter. Even through the rain and 
near darkness the name, in Wo feet high golden letters, was easily 
distinguishable: CORONADO. He unlocked the door, passed inside and 
switched on the lights and very powerful lights they were too, as they had to be 
for mechanics working on such delicate engineering. Here there was no need for 
glowing red lights, stealth and secrecy: there was no one who was going to 
question Johnny Harlow’s right to be inside his own transporter. Nevertheless, he 
took the precaution of locking the door from the inside and leaving the key half- 
turned in the lock so that it couldn’t be opened from the outside. Then he used 
ply to mask the windows so that he couldn’t be seen from outside: only then did 
he make for the tool-rack on the side and select the implements he wanted. 

MacAlpine and Dunnet, not for the first time, were 76 illegally in Harlow’s 
room and not feeling too happy about it: not about the illegality but what they 
had found there. More precisely, they were in Harlow’s bathroom. Dunnet had 
the cistern cover in his hand while MacAlpine held up a dripping bottle of malt 
whisky. Both men regarded each other, at a momentary loss for words, then 
Dunnet said : ‘Resourceful lad is our Johnny. He’s probably got a crate hidden 
under the driving seat of his Coronado. But I think you’d better leave that bottle 
where you found it.’ 

‘Why ever should I? What’s the point in that?’ 

‘That way we may know his daily consumption. If he can’t get it from that 
bottle he’ll sure as hell get it elsewhere—you know his uncanny way of 
vanishing in that red Ferrari of his. And then we’ll never know how much he 

‘I suppose so, I suppose so.’ He looked at the bottle and there was pain in his 
eyes, the most gifted driver of our time, perhaps the most gifted driver of all 
time, and now it’s come to this. Why do the gods strike a man like Johnny 
Harlow down, Alexis? Because he’s beginning to walk too close to them.’ 

‘Put the bottle back, James.’ 

Only two doors away was another pair of unhappy men, one of them 
markedly so. Tracchia, from the incessant way in which he massaged the back of 
his neck, appeared to be in very considerable pain. Neubauer watched him with a 
mixture of sympathy and anger. 

Neubauer said : ‘Sure it was that bastard Harlow? 5 

‘I’m sure. I’ve still got my wallet.’ 

That was careless of him. I think I’ll lose my room key and borrow the 

Tracchia momentarily ceased to massage his aching neck. ‘What the hell for?’ 

‘You’ll see. Stay here.’ 

Neubauer returned within two minutes, a key ring whirling round his finger. 
He said: ‘I’m taking the blonde at reception out on Sunday night. I think I’ll ask 
for the keys’ of the safe next time.’ 

Tracchia said in agonized patience: ‘Willi, there is a time and a place for 

‘Sorry.’ He opened the door and they passed out into the corridor. It was 
deserted. Less than ten seconds later they were both inside Harlow’s room, the 
door locked behind them. 

Tracchia said: ‘What happens if Harlow comes along?’ 

‘Who would you rather be? Harlow or us?’ 

They had spent no more than a minute in searching when Neubauer suddenly 
said : ‘You were quite right, Nikki. Our dear friend Johnny is just that little bit 

He showed Tracchia the cine-camera with the crisscross of scratches round 
each of the four screws securing the plate at the back, produced a pocket-knife, 
selected a small screw-driver, removed the plate and extracted the micro camera. 
Neubauer then extracted the cassette from the micro camera and examined it 
thoughtfully. He said: ‘We take this?’ 

Tracchia shook his head and instantly screwed up his face in the agony caused 
by the thoughtless movement. When he had recovered, he said: ‘No. He would 
have known we were here.’ 

Neubauer said: ‘So there’s only one thing for it then?’ 

Tracchia nodded and again winced in pain. Neubauer lifted off the cover of 
the cassette, unreeled the film and passed it under a strong desk lamp, then, not 
without some difficulty, rewound the film, replaced the cover, put the cassette 
back in the micro camera and the micro camera in the cine. 

Tracchia said: this proves nothing. We contact Marseilles?’ 

Neubauer nodded. Both men left the room. 

Harlow had a Coronado pushed back by about a foot. He peered at the section 
of floor-board revealed, reached for a powerful torch, knelt and examined the 
floor intently. One of the longitudinal planks appeared to have two transverse 
lines on it, about fifteen inches apart. Harlow used an oily cloth to rub the front 
line, whereupon it became evident that the front line was no line at all but a very 
fine sharp cut. The revealed heads of the two holding nails were bright and clear 
of any marks. Harlow brought a chisel to bear and the front of the inlet wooden 
section lifted with surprising ease. He reached down an arm to explore the depth 
and length of the space beneath. A fractional lifting of the eyebrows expressed 
some degree of surprise, almost certainly as to the unseen extent of area 
available. Harlow brought out his arm and touched fingertips to mouth and nose: 
there was no perceptible change in his expression. He replaced the board section 
and gently tapped it into place, using the butt of a chisel on the gleaming nail- 
heads. With a suitably oiled and dirty cloth he smeared the cuts and nails. 

Forty-five minutes had elapsed between the time of Harlow’s departure from 
the Villa-Hotel Cessni and his return there. The vast foyer looked semi-deserted 
but there must, n fact, have been over a hundred people there, many of them 
from the official reception party, all of them, probably, waiting to go ‘in for late 
dinner. The first two people Harlow saw were MacAlpine and Dunnet, sitting 
alone at a small table with short drinks. Two tables away Mary sat by herself, a 
soft drink and a magazine in front of her. She didn’t give the impression of 
reading and there was a certain stiff aloofness in her bearing. Harlow wondered 
towards whom the hostility was directed. Towards himself, likely enough, but on 
the other hand there had grown up an increasing estrangement between Mary on 
the one hand and MacAlpine on the other. Of Rory there was no sign. Probably 
out spying somewhere, Harlow thought. 

The three of them caught sight of Harlow at almost the same instant as he saw 
them. MacAlpine immediately rose to his feet. 

‘I’d be grateful, Alexis, if you could take Mary in to dinner. I’m going into the 
dining-room. I’m afraid if I were to stay-’ 

‘It’s all right, James. I understand.’ 

Harlow watched the calculated snub of the departing back without expression, 
an absence of outward feeling that quickly changed to a certain apprehension as 
he saw Mary bearing down on him. No question now as to whom the unspoken 
.hostility had been directed. She gave the very distinct impression of having been 
waiting for him. That bewitching smile that had made her the sweetheart of the 

race-tracks was, Harlow observed, in marked abeyance. He braced himself for 
what he knew was going to be a low but correspondingly fierce voice. 

‘Must you let everybody see you like this? And in a place like this? Harlow 
frowned in puzzlement. ‘You’ve been at it again.’ 

He said : that’s right. Go ahead. Wound an innocent man’s feelings. You have 
my worded bond — I mean my bonded word —’ 

‘It’s disgusting! Sober men don’t fall flat on their faces in the street. Look at 
the state of your clothes, your filthy hands. Go on! Just look at yourself.’ 

Harlow looked at himself. 

‘Oh! Aha! Well, sweet dreams, sweet Mary.’ 

He turned towards the stairs, took five steps and halted abruptly when 
confronted by Dunnet. For a moment the two men looked at each other, faces 
immobile, then there was an almost imperceptible lift of Dunnet’s eyebrow. 
When Harlow spoke, his voice was very quiet. 

He said : ‘We go now.’ 

The Coronado?’ 


‘We go now.’ 


Harlow drained his coffee — it was by now his invariable custom to breakfast 
alone in his bedroom —and crossed to the window. The famed Italian September 
sun was nowhere to be seen that morning. The overcast was very heavy, but the 
ground was dry and the visibility excellent, a combination making for ideal race¬ 
track conditions. He went into the bathroom, opened the window to its fullest 
extent, removed the cistern cover, took out the scotch, turned on the hot water 
tap and systematically poured half the contents of the bottle into the basin. He 
returned the bottle to its hiding-place, sprayed the room very heavily with an 
airfresh aerosol and left. 

He drove alone to the race-track - the passenger seat in his red Ferrari was 
rarely occupied now-to find Jacobson, his two mechanics and Dunnet already 
there. He greeted them briefly and in very short order, over-ailed and helmeted, 
was sitting in the cockpit of his new Coronado. Jacobson favoured him with his 
usual grimly despondent look. 

He said: ‘I hope you can give us good practice lap-time today, Johnny.’ 

Harlow said mildly: T thought I didn’t do too badly yesterday. However, one 
can but try.’ With his finger on the starter button he glanced at Dunnet. ‘And 
where is our worthy employer today? Never known him to miss a practice lap 

‘In the hotel. He has things to attend to.’ 

MacAlpine did, indeed, have things to attend to. What he was attending to at 
that moment had by this time become almost a routine chore — investigating the 
current level of Harlow’s alcohol supply. As soon as he entered Harlow’s 
bathroom he realized that checking the level of scotch in the bottle in the cistern 
was going to be a mere formality: the wide open window and the air heavy with 
the scent of the aerosol spray made further investigation almost superfluous. 
However, investigate he did: even though he had been almost certain what to 
expect, his face still darkened with anger as he held the half empty bottle up for 
inspection. He replaced the bottle, left Harlow’s room almost at a run, actually 
ran across the hotel foyer, climbed into his Aston and drove off in a fashion that 
might well have left the astonished onlookers with the impression that he had 
mistaken the forecourt of the Villa-Hotel Cessni for the Monza circuit. 

MacAlpine was still running when he arrived at the Coronado pits: there he 
encountered Dunnet who was just leaving them. MacAlpine was panting heavily. 
He said: ‘Where’s that young bastard Harlow?’ 

Dunnet did not reply at once. He seemed more concerned with shaking his 

head slowly from side to side. 

‘God’s sake, man, where’s that drunken layabout?’ MacAlpine’s voice was 
almost a shout. ‘He mustn’t be allowed anywhere near that damned track.’ 

‘There’s a lot of other drivers in Monza who would agree with you.’ 

‘What’s that meant to mean?’ 

‘It means that that drunken layabout has just broken the lap record by two 
point one seconds.’ Dunnet continued to shake his head in continued disbelief. 
‘Bloody well incredible.’ 

‘Two point one! Two point one! Two point one!’ It was MacAlpine’s turn to 
take up the head-shaking. Impossible. A margin like that? Impossible.’ 

‘Ask the time-keepers. He did it twice.’ 


‘You don’t seem as pleased as you might, James.’ 

‘Pleased. I’m bloody well terrified. Sure, sure, he’s still the best driver in the 
world-except in actual competition when his nerve goes. But it wasn’t driving 
skill that took him around in that time. It was Dutch courage. Sheer bloody 
suicidal Dutch courage.’ 

‘I don’t understand you.’ 

‘He’d a half-bottle of scotch inside him, Alexis. 

Dunnet stared at him. He said at length, ‘I don’t believe k. I can’t believe it 
He may have driven like a bat out of hell but he also drove like an angel. Half a 
bottle of scotch? He’d have killed himself.’ 

‘Perhaps it’s as well there was no one else on the track at the time. He’d have 
killed them, maybe.’ 

‘But - but a whole half-bottle!’ 

‘Want to come and have a look in the cistern in his bathroom?’ 

‘No, no. You think I’d ever question your word? It’s just that I can’t 
understand it.’ 

‘Nor can I, nor can I. And where is our world champion at the moment?’ 

‘Left the track. Says he’s through for the day. Says he’s got the pole position 
for tomorrow and if anyone takes it from him he’ll just come back and take it 
away from them again. He’s in an uppish sort of mood today, is our Johnny.’ 

‘And he never used to talk that way. That’s not uppishness, Alexis, it’s sheer 
bloody euphoria dancing on clouds of seventy proof. God Almighty, do I have a 
problem or do I have a problem.’ 

‘You have a problem, James.’ 

On the afternoon of that same Saturday MacAlpine, had he been in a certain 

rather shabby little side street in Monza, might well have had justification for 
thinking that his problems were being doubly or trebly compounded. Two highly 
undistinguished little cafes faced each other across the narrow street. They had 
in common the same peeling paint facade, hanging reed curtains, chequered 
cloth-covered sidewalk tables and bare, functional and splendidly uninspired 
interiors. And both of them, as was so common in cafes of this type, featured 
high-backed booths facing end-on to the street. 

Sitting well back from the window in such a booth on the southern and shaded 
side of the street were Neubauer and Tracchia with untouched drinks in front of 
them. The drinks were untouched because neither man was interested in them. 
Their entire interest was concentrated upon the cafe opposite where, close up to 
the window and clearly in view, Harlow and Dunnet, glasses in their hands, 
could be seen engaged in what appeared to be earnest discussion across their 
booth table. 

Neubauer said : 'Well, now that we’ve followed them here, Nikki, what do we 
do now? I mean, you can’t lip-read, can you?’ 

We wait and see? We play it by ear? T wish to God T could lip-read, Willi. 
And I’d also like to know why those two have suddenly become so friendly — 
though they hardly ever speak nowadays in public. And why did they have to 
come to a little back street like this to talk? We know that Harlow is up to 
something very funny indeed —the back of my neck still feels half-broken, I 
could hardly get my damned helmet on today. And if he and Dunnet are so thick 
then they’re both up to the same funny thing. But Dunnet’s only a journalist. 
What can a journalist and a has-been driver be up to?’ 

Has-been? Did you see his times this morning?’ 

‘Has-been I said and has-been I meant. You’ll see — he’ll crack tomorrow 
just as he’s cracked in the last four GPs.’ 

‘Yes. Another strange .thing. Why is he so good in practice and such a failure 
in the races themselves?’ 

‘No question. It’s common knowledge that Harlow’s pretty close to being an 
alcoholic — I’d say he already is one. All right, so he can drive one fast lap, 
maybe three. But in an eighty-lap Grand Prix —how can you expect an alco to 
have the stamina, the reactions, the nerve to last the pace? He’ll crack.’ He 
looked away from the other cafe and took a morose sip of his drink. ‘God, what 
wouldn’t I give to be sitting in the next booth to those two.’ 

Tracchia laid a hand on Neubauer’s forearm. ‘Maybe that won’t be necessary, 
Willi. Maybe we’ve just found a pair of ears to do our listening for us. Look!’ 

Neubauer looked. With what appeared to be a considerable degree of stealth 
and secrecy Rory MacAlpine was edging his way into the booth next to the one 
occupied by Harlow and Dunnet. He was carrying a coloured drink in his hand. 
When he sat it was with his back to Harlow : physically, they couldn’t have been 
more than a foot apart. Rory adopted a very upright posture, both his back and 
the back of his head pressed hard against the partition: he was, clearly, listening 
very intently indeed. He had about him the look of one who was planning a 
career either as a master spy or a double agent. Without question he had a rare 
talent for observing — and listening — without being observed. 

Neubauer said: ‘What do you think young MacAlpine is up to?’ 

‘Here and now?’ Tracchia spread his hands. ‘Anything. The one thing that you 
can be sure of is that he intends no good to Harlow. I should think he is just 
trying to get anything he can on Harlow. Just anything. He’s a determined young 
devil —and he hates Harlow. I must say I wouldn’t care very much myself to be 
in his black books.’ 

‘So we have an ally, Nikki, yes?’ 

‘I see no reason why not. Let’s think up a nice little story to tell him.’ He 
peered across the street. ‘Young Rory doesn’t seem too pleased about 

Rory wasn’t. His expression held mixed feelings of vexation, exasperation 
and perplexity: because of the high back of the booth and the background noise 
level created by the other patrons of the cafe, he could catch only snatches of the 
conversation from the next booth. 

Matters weren’t helped for Rory by the fact that Harlow and Dunnet were 
carrying on this conversation in very low tones indeed. Both of them had tall 
clear drinks in front of them, both drinks with ice and lemon in them: only one 
held gin. Dunnet looked consideringly at the tiny film cassette he was cradling in 
the palm of his hand then slipped it into a safe inside pocket. 

‘Photographs of code? You’re sure?’ 

‘Code for sure. Perhaps even along with some abstruse foreign language. I’m 
afraid I’m no expert on those matters.’ 

‘No more than I am. But we have people who are experts. And the Coronado 
transporter. You’re sure about that too?’ 

‘No question.’ 

‘So we’ve been nursing a viper to our own bosom - if that’s the phrase I’m 
looking for.’ 

‘It is a bit embarrassing, isn’t it?’ 

‘And no question about Henry having any finger in the pie?’ 

‘Henry? 5 Harlow shook his head positively. ‘My life on it.’ 

‘Even though, as driver, he’s the only person who’s with the transporter on 
every trip it makes?’ 

‘Even though.’ 

‘And Henry will have to go?’ 

‘What option do we have?’ 

‘So. Exit Henry — temporarily, though he won’t know it: he’ll get his old job 
back. He’ll be hurt, of course -but what’s one brief hurt to thousands of life-long 

‘And if he refuses?’ 

‘I’ll have him kidnapped,’ Dunnet said matter-of-factly. ‘Or otherwise 
removed - painlessly, of course. But he’ll go along. I’ve got the doctor’s 
certificate already signed.’ 

‘How about medical ethics?’ 

The combination of £500 and a genuine certificate of an already existing heart 
murmur makes medical scruples vanish like a snowflake in the river.’ 

The two men finished their drinks, rose and left. So, after what he presumably 
regarded as being a suitably safe interval, did Rory. In the cafe opposite, 
Neubauer and Tracchia rose hurriedly, walked quickly after Rory and overtook 
him in half a minute. Rory looked his surprise. 

Tracchia said confidentially: ‘We want to talk to you, Rory. Can you keep a 

Rory looked intrigued but he had a native caution which seldom abandoned 
him. ‘What’s the secret about?’ 

‘You are a suspicious young person.’ 

‘What’s the secret about?’ 

‘Johnny Harlow.’ 

‘That’s different.’ Tracchia had Rory’s instantaneous and co-operative 
attention. ‘Of course I can keep a secret.’ 

Neubauer said: ‘Well, then, never a whisper. Never one word or you’ll ruin 
everything. You understand?’ 

‘Of course.’ He hadn’t the faintest idea what Neubauer was talking about. 

You’ve heard of the GPDA?’ 

‘Course. The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.’ 

‘Right. Well, the GPDA has decided that for the safety of us all, drivers and 
spectators alike, Harlow must be removed from the Grand Prix roster. We want 

him taken off all the race-tracks in Europe. You know that he drinks?’ 

‘Who doesn’t?’ 

‘He drinks so much that he’s become the most dangerous driver in Europe.’ 
Neubauer’s voice was low-pitched, conspiratorial and totally convincing. ‘Every 
other driver is scared to be on the same track as he is. None of us knows when 
he’s going to be the next Jethou.’ 

‘You-you mean-’ 

‘He was drunk at the time. That’s why a good man dies, Rory-because another 
man drinks half a bottle of scotch too many. Would you call that much different 
from being a murderer?’ 

‘No, by God I wouldn’t!’ 

‘So the GPDAhas asked Willi and myself to gather die evidence. About 
drinking, I mean. Especially before a big race. Will you help us?’ 

‘You have to ask me?’ 

‘We know, boy, we know.’ Neubauer put his hand on Rory’s shoulder, a 
gesture at once indicative of consolation and understanding. ‘Mary is our girl, 
too. You saw Harlow and Mr. Dunnet in that cafe just now. Did Harlow drink?’ 

‘I didn’t really see them. I was in the next booth. But I heard Mr. Dunnet say 
something about gin and I saw the waiter bring two tall glasses with what looked 
like water in them.’ 

‘Water!’ Tracchia shook his head sadly. ‘Anyway, that’s more like it. Though I 
can’t believe that Dunnet — well, who knows. Did you hear them talk about 

‘Mr. Dunnet? Is there something wrong with him too?’ 

Tracchia said evasively, well aware that that was the surest way of arousing 
Rory’s interest: ‘I don’t know anything about Mr. Dunnet. About drink, now.’ 

They spoke in very low voices. I caught something, not much. Not about 
drink. The only thing I heard was something about changed cassettes — film 
cassettes — or such-like, something Harlow had given to Mr. Dunnet. Didn’t 
make any kind of sense to me.’ 

Tracchia said : that hardly concerns us. But the rest, yes. Keep your eyes and 
ears open, will you?’ 

Rory, carefully concealing his new-found sense of self-importance, nodded 
man to man and walked away. Neubauer and Tracchia looked at each other with 
fury in their faces, a fury, clearly, that was not directed at each other. 

Through tightly clenched teeth Tracchia said : The crafty bastard! He’s 
switched cassettes on us. That was a dud we destroyed.’ 

On the evening of that same day Dunnet and Henry sat in a remote corner of 
the lobby in the Villa-Hotel Cessni. Dunnet wore his usual near-inscrutable 
expression. Henry looked somewhat stunned although it was clear that his native 
shrewdness was hard at work making a reassessment of an existing situation and 
a readjustment to a developing one. He tried hard not to look cunning. He said : 
‘You certainly do know how to lay it on the line, don’t you, Mr. Dunnet?’ The 
tone of respectful admiration for a higher intellect was perfectly done. Dunnet 
remained totally unmoved. 

‘If by laying it on the line, Henry, you mean putting it as briefly and clearly as 
possible, then, yes, I have laid it on the line. Yes or no? ‘ 

‘Jesus, Mr. Dunnet, you don’t give a man much time to think, do you?’ 

Dunnet said patiently : This hardly calls for thought, Henry. A simple yes or 
no. Take it or leave it.’ 

Henry kept his cunning look under wraps. ‘And if I leave it?’ 

‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 

Henry looked distinctly uneasy. ‘I don’t know if I like the sound of that, Mr. 

‘How does it sound to you, Henry?’ 

‘I mean, well, you aren’t blackmailing me or threatening me or something like 

Dunnet had the air of a man counting up to ten. ‘You make me say it, Henry. 
You’re talking rubbish. How can one blackmail a man who leads the spotless life 
you do? You do lead a spotless life, don’t you, Henry? And why should I 
threaten you? How could I threaten you?’ He made a long pause. ‘Yes or no?’ 

Henry sighed in defeat. ‘Damn it all, yes. I’ve got nothing to lose. For £5,000 
and a job in our Marseilles garage I’d sell my own grandmother down the river - 
God rest her soul.’ 

That wouldn’t be necessary even if it were possible. Just total silence that’s 
all. Here’s a health certificate from a local doctor. It’s to say you have an 
advanced cardiac condition and are no longer fit for heavy work such as, say, 
driving a transporter.’ 

‘I haven’t been feeling at all well lately and that’s a fact.’ 

Dunnet permitted himself the faintest of smiles. ‘I thought you might have 
been feeling that way.’ 

‘Does Mr. MacAlpine know about this?’ 

‘He will when you tell him. Just wave that paper.’ 

‘You think he’ll wear it?’ 

‘If you mean accept it, yes. He’ll have no option.’ 

‘May I ask the reason for all this?’ 

‘No. You’re getting paid £5,000 not to ask questions. Or talk. Ever. ‘ 

‘You’re a very funny journalist, Mr. Dunnet.’ 


‘I’m told you were an accountant in what they call the City. Why did you give 
it up?’ 

‘Emphysema. My lungs, Henry, my lungs.’ 

‘Something like my cardiac condition?’ 

‘In these days of stress and strain, Henry, perfect health is a blessing that is 
granted to very few of us. And now you’d better go and see Mr. MacAlpine.’ 

Henry left. Dunnet wrote a brief note, addressed a stout buff envelope, 
marked it EXPRESS and URGENT in the top left corner, inserted the note and 
micro-film and left. As he passed out into the corridor he failed to notice that the 
door of the room next to his was slightly ajar: consequently, he also failed to 
observe a single eye peering out through this narrow gap in the doorway. 

The eye belonged to Tracchia. He closed the door, moved out on to his 
balcony and waved an arm in signal. In the distance, far beyond the forecourt of 
the hotel, an indistinct figure raised an arm in acknowledgment. Tracchia hurried 
downstairs and located Neubauer. Together they moved towards the bar and sat 
there, ordering soft drinks. At least a score of people saw and recognized them 
for Neubauer and Tracchia were scarcely less well known that Harlow himself. 
But Tracchia was not a man to establish an alibi by halves. 

He said to the barman: ‘I’m expecting a call from Milan at five o’clock. What 
time do you have?’ 

‘Exactly five, Mr. Tracchia. ‘ 

‘Let the desk know I’m here.’ 

‘The direct route to the Post Office lay through a narrow alleyway lined with 
mews-type houses and alternate garages on both sides. The road was almost 
deserted, a fact that Dunnet attributed to its being a Saturday afternoon. In all its 
brief length of less than two hundred yards there was only an overalled figure 
working ‘ over the engine of his car outside the opened door of a garage. In a 
fashion more French than Italian he wore a navy beret down to his eyes and the 
rest of his face was so streaked with oil and grease as to be virtually 
unrecognizable. He wouldn’t, Dunnet thought inconsequentially, have been 
tolerated for five seconds on die Coronado racing team. But, then, working on a 
Coronado and on a battered old Fiat 600 called for different standards of 


As Dunnet passed the Fiat the mechanic abruptly straightened. Dunnet 
politely side-stepped to avoid him but as he did so the mechanic, one leg braced 
against the side of the car to lend additional leverage for a take-off thrust, flung 
his entire bodily weight against him. Completely off-balance and already falling, 
Dunnet staggered through the opened garage doorway. His already headlong 
process towards the ground was rapidly and violently accelerated by two very 
large and very powerful stocking-masked figures who clearly held no brief for 
the more gentle arts of persuasion. The garage door closed behind him. 

Rory was absorbed in a lurid comic magazine and Tracchia and Neubauer, 
alibis safely established, were still at the bar when Dunnet entered the hotel. It 
was an entry that attracted the immediate attention of everyone in the foyer for it 
was an entry that would have attracted such attention anywhere. Dunnet didn’t 
walk in, he staggered in like a drunken man and even then would have fallen 
were it not for the fact that he was supported by a policeman on either side of 
him. He was bleeding badly from nose and mouth, had a rapidly closing right 
eye, an unpleasant gash above it and, generally, a badly bruised face. Tracchia, 
Neubauer, Rory and the receptionist reached him at almost the same moment. 

The shock in Tracchia’s voice marched perfectly with the expression on his 
face. He said: ‘God in heaven, Mr. Dunnet, what happened to you?’ 

Dunnet tried to smile, winced and thought better of it. He said in a slurred 
voice: ‘I rather think I was set upon.’ 

Neubauer said : ‘But who did — I mean where — why, Mr. Dunnet, why?’ 

One of the policemen held up his hand and turned to the receptionist. ‘Please. 
At once. A doctor.’ 

‘In one minute. Less. We have seven staying here. She turned to Tracchia. 
‘You know Mr. Dunnet’s room, Mr. Tracchia. If you and Mr. Neubauer would be 
so kind as to show the officers —’ 

‘No need. Mr. Neubauer and I will take him up.’ 

The policeman said: ‘I’m sorry. We will require a statement from — ‘ 

He halted as most people did when they were on the receiving end of 
Tracchia’s most intimidating scowl. He said: ‘Leave your station number with 
this young lady. You will be called when the doctor gives Mr. Dunnet permission 
to talk. Not before. Meantime, he must get to bed immediately. Do you 

They understood, nodded and left without another word. Tracchia and 
Neubauer, followed by a Rory whose puzzlement was matched only by his 

apprehension, took Dunnet to his room and were in the process of putting him to 
bed when a doctor arrived. He was young, Italian, clearly highly efficient and 
extremely polite when he asked them to leave the room. 

In the corridor Rory said: ‘Why would anyone do that to Mr. Dunnet? 5 

‘Who knows?’ Tracchia said. ‘Robbers, thieves, people who would sooner rob 
and half-kill than do an honest day’s work.’ He flicked a glance at Neubauer, one 
that Rory was not intended to miss, there are lots of unpleasant people in the 
world, Rory. Let’s leave it to the police, shall we?’ 

‘You mean that you’re not going to bother — ‘ 

‘We’re drivers, my boy,’ Neubauer said. “We’re not detectives.’ 

‘I’m not a boy! I’ll soon be seventeen. And I’m not a fool.’ Rory brought his 
anger under control and looked at them speculatively, there’s something very 
fishy, very funny going on. I’ll bet Harlow is mixed up in this somewhere.’ 

‘Barlow?’ Tracchia raised an amused eyebrow in a fashion that was little to 
Rory’s liking. ‘Come off it, Rory. You were the person who overheard Harlow 
and Dunnet having their confidential little ‘Ste-ci-tete. ’ 

‘Aha! That’s just the point. I didn’t overhear what they said. I just heard their 
voices, not what they said. They could have been saying anything. Maybe 
Harlow was threatening him.’ Rory paused to consider this fresh and intriguing 
prospect and conviction burgeoned on the instant. ‘Of course that was what it 
was. Harlow was threatening him because Dunnet was either double-crossing or 
blackmailing him.’ 

Tracchia said kindly: ‘Rory, you really must give up reading those horror 
comics of yours. Even if Dunnet were double-crossing or blackmailing Harlow, 
how would beating up Dunnet help in any way? He’s still around, isn’t he? He 
can still carry on this double-crossing or blackmailing of yours. I’m afraid you’ll 
have to come up with a better one than that, Rory.’ 

Rory said slowly: ‘Maybe I can. Dunnet did say he was beaten up in that 
narrow alleyway leading towards the main street. Do you know what lies at the 
far end of the alleyway? The Post Office. Maybe Dunnet was going down there 
to dispose of some evidence he had on Harlow. Maybe he thought it was too 
dangerous to carry that evidence around with him any more. So Harlow made 
good and sure that Dunnet never got the chance to post it.’ 

Neubauer looked at Tracchia then back at Rory. He wasn’t smiling any more. 
He said: ‘What kind of evidence, Rory?’ 

‘How should I know?’ Rory’s irritation was marked. ‘I’ve been doing all the 
thinking up till now. How about you two trying to do a little thinking for once?’ 

‘We might just at that.’ Tracchia, like Neubauer, was now suddenly serious 
and thoughtful. ‘Now don’t go talking around about this, lad. Apart from the fact 
that we haven’t a single shred of proof, there’s such a thing as the law of libel.’ 

‘I’ve told you once,’ Rory said with some acerbity, ‘I’m not a fool. Besides, it 
wouldn’t look too good for you two if it was known that you were trying to put 
the finger on Johnny Harlow.’ 

That you can say again,’ Tracchia said. ‘Bad news travels fast. Here comes 
Mr. Mac Alpine.’ 

MacAlpine arrived at the head of the stairs, his face, much thinner now and 
far more deeply lined than it had been two months previously, was grim and tight 
with anger. He said: this is true? I mean about Dunnet?’ 

Tracchia said : ‘I’m afraid so. Some person or persons have given him a pretty 
thorough going over.’ 

‘In God’s name, why?’ 

‘Robbery, it looks like.’ 

‘Robbery! In broad daylight. Jesus, the sweet joys of civilization. When did 
this happen?’ 

‘Couldn’t have been much more than ten minutes ago. Willi and I were at the 
bar when he went out. It was exactly five o’clock because I happened to be 
checking a phone call with the barman at the time. We were at the bar when he 
came back and when he came back I checked my watch — thought it might be 
useful for the police to know. It was exactly twelve minutes past five. He 
couldn’t have got very far in that time.’ 

‘Where is he now?’ 

There. In his room.’ 

Then why are you three — 9 

‘Doctor’s in there with him. He threw us out.’ 

‘He will not,’ MacAlpine predicted with certainty, ‘throw me out.’ 

Nor did he. Five minutes later it was the doctor who was the first to emerge 
followed in another five by MacAlpine, his face at once thunderous and deeply 
worried. He went straight to his own room. 

Tracchia, Neubauer and Rory were sitting by a wall table in the foyer when 
Harlow entered. If he saw them he paid no heed but walked straight across the 
length of the foyer to the stairs. He smiled faintly once or twice in response to 
tentative approaches and deferential smiles of greeting, but otherwise his face 
remained its normal impassive self. 

Neubauer said: ‘Well, you must admit that our Johnny doesn’t look all that 

concerned about life.’ 

‘You bet he doesn’t.’ Rory could not have been accused of snarling, because 
he hadn’t yet mastered the art, but he was obviously getting close. ‘I’ll bet he’s 
not very concerned about death either. I’ll bet if it was his own grandmother he’d 

‘Rory.’ Tracchia held up a restraining hand. ‘You’re letting your imagination 
mn wild. The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association is a very respectable body of men. 
We have what people call a good public image and we don’t want to spoil it. 

Sure, we like to have you on our side : but wild >talk like this can only damage 
everyone concerned.’ 

Rory scowled at each man in turn, rose and walked stiffly away. Neubauer 
said, almost sadly: ‘I’m afraid, Nikki, that our young firebrand there is shortly 
about to experience some of the most painful moments of his life.’ 

‘It’ll do him no harm,’ Tracchia said. ‘And it certainly won’t do us any either.’ 

Neubauer’s prophecy was confirmed in remarkably short order. 

Harlow closed the door behind him and looked down at the prostrate figure of 
Dunnet who, although he had been duly and efficiently doctored, had a face that 
looked as if it had emerged from a major road accident within the past few 
minutes. Allowing for the areas covered by bruises and a variety of plasters, 
there was, in all conscience, little enough of his face to be seen, just a nose 
double its usual size, a completely-closed rainbow-coloured right eye and 
stitches on the forehead and upper lip, but sufficient to lend credence to his 
recent life and hard times. Harlow clucked his tongue in the usual sympathetic if 
rather perfunctory fashion, took two silent steps towards the door and jerked it 
open. Rory literally fell into the room and measured his length on the splendid 
marble tiles of the Villa-Hotel Cessni. 

Wordlessly, Harlow bent over him, wound his fingers in Rory’s thick black 
curling hair and hauled him to his feet. Rory had no words either, just a piercing 
heartfelt scream of agony. Still without speaking, Harlow transferred his grip to 
Rory’s ear, marched him along the corridor to MacAlpine’s room, knocked and 
went inside, dragging Rory with him: tears of pain rolled down the unhappy 
Rory’s face. MacAlpine, lying on top of his bed, propped himself up on one 
elbow: his outrage that his only son should be so cruelly mishandled was clearly 
outweighed by the fact that it was Harlow who was ‘doing the mishandling. 

Harlow said: ‘I know I’m not very much in the grace and favour line with 
Coronado at the moment. I also know he is your son. But the next time I find this 
spying young tramp eavesdropping outside the door of a room I’m in I’ll well 

and truly clobber him.’ 

MacAlpine looked at Harlow, then at Rory, then back to Harlow. I can’t 
believe it. I won’t believe it.’ The voice was flat and singularly lacking in 

‘I don’t care whether you believe me or not.’ Harlow’s anger had gone, he’d 
slipped on his old mask of indifference. ‘But I know you would believe Alexis 
Dunnet. Go and ask him. I was with him in his room when I opened the door a 
bit unexpectedly for our young friend here. He had been leaning so heavily 
against it that he fell flat to the floor. I helped him up. By his hair. That’s why 
there’s tears in his eyes.’ 

MacAlpine looked at Rory in a less than paternal fashion. ‘Is this true?’ 

Rory wiped his sleeve across his eyes, concentrated sullenly on the 
examination of the toes of his shoes and prudently said nothing. 

. ‘Leave him to me, Johnny.’ MacAlpine didn’t look particularly angry or 
upset, just very very tired. ‘My apologies if I seemed to doubt you — I didn’t.’ 

Harlow nodded, left, returned to Dunnet’s room, closed and locked the door 
then, as Dunnet watched in silence, proceeded to search the room thoroughly. A 
few minutes later, apparently still not satisfied, he moved into the adjacent 
bathroom, turned a tap and the shower on to maximum then went out, leaving 
the door wide open behind him. It is difficult for even the most sensitive 
microphone to pick up with any degree of clarity the sound of human voices 
against a background of running water. 

Without any by-your-leave, he searched through the outer clothing that 
Dunnet had been wearing. He replaced the clothing and looked at Dunnet’s torn 
shirt and the white band that a wrist watch had left on a sun-tanned wrist. 

‘Has it occurred to you, Alexis,’ Harlow said, that some of your activities are 
causing displeasure in certain quarters and that they are trying to discourage 

‘Funny. Bloody funny.’ Dunnet’s voice was, understandably, so thick and 
slurred that in his case the use of any anti-microphone devices was almost 
wholly superfluous. ‘Why didn’t they discourage me permanently?’ 

‘Only a fool kills unnecessarily. We are not up against fools. However, who 
knows, one day? Well, now. Wallet, loose change, watch, cuff-links, even your 
half-dozen fountain pens and car keys —all gone. Looks like a pretty 
professional roll job, doesn’t it?’ 

The hell with that.’ Dunnet spat blood into a handful of tissue. ‘What matters 
is that the cassette is gone.’ 

Harlow hesitated then cleared his throat in a diffident fashion. 

‘Well, let’s say that a cassette is missing.’ 

The only really viable feature in Dunnet’s face was his unblemished right eye: 
this, after a momentary puzzlement, he used most effectively to glower at 
Harlow with the maximum of suspicion. 

‘What the hell do you mean?’ 

Harlow gazed into the middle distance. 

‘Well, Alexis, I do feel a little bit apologetic about this, but the cassette that 
matters is in the hotel safe. The one our friends now have — the one I gave to 
you - was a plant.’ 

Dunnet, with what little could be seen of his sadly battered face slowly 
darkening in anger, tried to sit up: gently but firmly Harlow pushed him down 

Harlow said : ‘Now, now, Alexis, don’t do yourself an injury. Another one, I 
mean. They were on to me and I had to put myself in the clear or I was finished 
— although God knows I never expected them to do this to you.’ He paused. 

‘I’m in the clear now.’ 

‘You’d better be sure of that, my boy.’ Dunnet had subsided but his anger 

‘I’m sure. When they develop that film spool they’ll find it contains micro 
photos - about a hundred - of line drawings of a prototype gas turbine engine. 
They’ll conclude I’m as much a criminal as they are, but as my business is 
industrial espionage, there can be no possible conflict of interests. They’ll lose 
interest in me.’ 

Dunnet looked at him balefully. ‘Clever bastard, aren’t you?’ 

‘Yes, I am, rather.’ He went to the door, opened it and turned round. 
‘Especially, it seems, when it is at other people’s expense.’ 


In the Coronado pits on the following afternoon a heavily panting MacAlpine 
and a still sadly battered Dunnet argued in low and urgent tones. The faces of 
both men were marked with worry. 

MacAlpine made no attempt to conceal the savagery he felt inside him. He 
said: ‘But the bottle’s empty, man. Drained to the last drop. I’ve just checked. 
Jesus, I can’t just let him go out there and kill another man.’ 

‘If you stop him you’ll have to explain why to the press. It’ll be a sensation, 
the international sporting scandal of the last decade. It’ll kill Johnny. 
Professionally, I mean.’ 

‘Better have him killed professionally than have him kill another driver for 

Dunnet said : ‘Give him two laps. If he’s in the lead, then let him go. He can’t 
kill anyone in that position. If not, flag him in. We’ll cook up something for the 
press. Anyway, remember what he did yesterday with the same skinful inside 

‘Yesterday he was lucky. Today-’ 

Today it’s too late.’ 

Even at a distance of several hundred feet the sound of twenty-four Grand 
Prix racing engines accelerating away from the starting grid was startling, almost 
shattering, both in its unexpectedness and ear-cringing fury of sound. MacAlpine 
and Dunnet looked at each other and shrugged simultaneously. There seemed to 
be no other comment or reaction to meet the case. 

The first driver past the pits, already pulling fractionally clear of Nicolo 
Tracchia, was Harlow in his lime-green Coronado. MacAlpine turned to Dunnet 
and said heavily: ‘One swallow does not make a summer.’ 

Eight laps later MacAlpine was beginning to question his ornithological 
expertise. He was looking slightly dazed while Dunnet was indulging in 
considerable eyebrow-lifting, Jacobson’s expression was not one indicative of 
any marked internal pleasure while Rory was positively scowling although 
manfully trying not to. Only Mary expressed her true emotion and that without 
inhibition. She looked positively radiant. 

Three lap records gone,’ she said incredulously. Three lap records in eight 

By the end of the ninth lap the emotions of those in the Coronado pits, as 
registered by their facial expressions, had radically altered. Jacobson and Rory 
were, with difficulty, refraining from looking cheerful. Mary was chewing 

anxiously on her pencil. MacAlpine looked thunderous but the thunder was 
overlaid by deep anxiety. 

'Forty seconds overdue!’ he said. 'Forty seconds! All the field’s gone past and 
he’s not even in sight. What in God’s name could have happened to him?’ 

Dunnet said: 'Shall I phone the track-marshals’ checkpoints ?’ 

MacAlpine nodded and Dunnet began to make calls. The first two yielded no 
information and he was about to make a third when Harlow’s Coronado 
appeared and drew into the pits. The engine note of the Coronado sounded 
perfectly healthy in every way, which was more than could be said for Harlow 
when he had climbed out of his car and removed his helmet and goggles. 

His eyes were glazed and bloodshot. He looked at them for a moment then 
spread his hands: the tremor in them was unmistakable. 

'Sorry. Had to pull up about a mile out. Double vision. Could hardly see 
where I was going. Come to that, I still can’t.’ 

‘Get changed.’ The bleak harshness in MacAlpine’s voice startled the 
listeners. 'I’m taking you to hospital.’ 

Harlow hesitated, made as if to speak, shrugged, turned and walked away. 
Dunnet said in a low voice: ‘You’re not taking him to the course doctor?’ 

‘I’m taking him to see a friend of mine. An optometrist of note but many 
other things besides. All I want him to do is a little job for me, a job I couldn’t 
get done in privacy and secrecy on the track.’ 

‘Dunnet said quietly, almost sadly : ‘A blood sample?’ 

‘Just one positive blood sample.’ 

‘And that will be the end of the road for Grand Prix’s superstar?’ 

The end of the road.’ 

For a person who might well have good reason for believing he had reached 
the end of his professional career Harlow, as he sat relaxed in his chair in a 
hospital corridor, seemed singularly unperturbed. Most unusually for him he was 
smoking a cigarette, the hand holding the cigarette as steady as if it had been 
carved from marble. Harlow gazed thoughtfully at the door at the far end of the 

Behind that door MacAlpine, his face registering a combination of disbelief 
and consternation, looked at the man seated across the desk from him, a benign 
and elderly bearded doctor in shirt sleeves. 

MacAlpine said: ‘Impossible. Quite impossible. You mean to tell me there is 
no alcohol in his blood?’ 

‘Impossible or not, I mean what I say. An experienced colleague has just 

carried out a double-check. He has no more alcohol in his blood than you would 
find in that of a life-long abstainer.’ 

MacAlpine shook-his head. 'Impossible/ he repeated. 'Look, Professor, I 
have proof —’ 

To us long-suffering doctors nothing is impossible. The speed with which 
different individuals metabolize alcohol varies beyond belief. With an obviously 
extremely fit young man like your friend outside-’ 

‘But his eyes! You saw his eyes. Bleary, bloodshot -’ 

‘There could be half a dozen reasons for that.’ 

‘And the double vision?’ 

‘His eyes seem normal enough. How well he is seeing it’s hard to say yet. 
There exists always the possibility that the eyes themselves are sound enough 
but that some damage may have been done to an optical nerve.’ The doctor stood 
up. ‘A spot check is not enough. I’d need a series of tests, a battery of tests. 
Unfortunately, not now — I’m already overdue at the theatre. Could he-come 
along about seven this evening?’ 

MacAlpine said he could, expressed his thanks and left. As he approached 
Harlow, he looked at the cigarette in his hand, then at Harlow, then back at the 
cigarette but said nothing. Still in silence, the two men left the hospital, got into 
MacAlpine’s Aston and drove back in the direction of Monza. 

Harlow broke the silence. He said mildly: ‘As the principal concerned, don’t 
you think you should tell me what the doctor said?’ 

MacAlpine said shortly: ‘He’s not sure. He wants to carry out a series of tests. 
The first is at seven o’clock tonight.’ 

Still mildly, Harlow said : ‘I hardly think that will be necessary.’ 

MacAlpine glanced at him in brief speculation. ‘And what’s that meant to 

There’s a lay-by half a kilometre ahead. Pull in, please. There’s something I 
want to say. ‘ 

At seven o’clock that evening, the hour when Harlow was supposed to be in 
hospital, Dunnet sat in MacAlpine’s hotel room. The atmosphere was funereal. 
Both men had large glasses of scotch in their hands. 

Dunnet said: ‘Jesus! Just like that? He said his nerve was gone, he knew he 
was finished and could he break his contract?’ 

‘Just like that. No more beating about the bush, he said. No more kidding — 
especially kidding himself. God knows what it cost the poor devil to say so.’ 

‘And the scotch?’ 

MacAlpine sampled his own and sighed heavily, more in sadness than 
weariness. 'Quite humorous about it, really. Says he detests the damned stuff and 
is thankful for a reason never to touch it again . 5 

It was Dunnet’s turn to have recourse to his scotch. ‘And what’s going to 
happen to your poor devil now? Mind you, James, I’m not overlooking what this 
has cost you —you’ve lost the best driver in the world. But right now I’m more 
concerned about Johnny.’ 

‘Me, too. But what to do? What to do?’ 

The man who was the subject of all this concern was displaying a remarkable 
amount of unconcern. For a man who was the central figure in the greatest fall 
from grace in the history of motor racing, Johnny Harlow seemed most 
extraordinarily cheerful. As he adjusted his tie before the mirror in his room he 
whistled, albeit slightly tunelessly, to himself, breaking off occasionally to smile 
at some private thought. He shrugged into his jacket, left his room, went down to 
the lobby, took an orangeade from the bar and sat down at a nearby table. Before 
he was even able to sip his drink Mary came and sat beside him. She took one of 
his hands in both of hers. 

‘Johnny!’ she said. ‘Oh, Johnny!’ ‘Harlow gazed at her with sorrowful eyes. 

She went on : ‘Daddy just told me. Oh, Johnny, what are we going to do?’ 


She gazed at him for long seconds without speaking, looked away and said : 
to lose my two best friends in one day.’ There were no tears in her eyes but there 
were tears in her voice. 

‘Your -two —what do you mean?’ 

‘I thought you knew.’ Now the tears were trickling down her cheeks. ‘Henry’s 
got bad heart trouble. He has to go.’ 

‘Henry? Dear, oh dear, oh dear.’ Harlow squeezed her hands and gazed off 
into the middle distance. ‘Poor old Henry. I wonder what will happen to him?’ 

‘Oh, that’s all right.’ She sniffed. ‘Daddy’s keeping him on in Marseilles.’ 

‘Ah. Then it’s probably all for the best—Henry was getting past it anyway.’ 

Harlow remained thoughtful for some seconds, apparently lost in deep 
thought, then clasped Mary’s hands with his free one. He said : ‘Mary, I love 
you. Hang on, will you? Back in a couple of minutes. 

One minute later Harlow was in MacAlpine’s room. Dunnet was there and he 
had the appearance of a man who was with difficulty keeping his anger under 
control. MacAlpine was clearly highly distressed. He shook his head many 

He said: ‘Not at any price. Not under any circumstances. No, no, no. It’s just 
not on. One day the world champion, the next trundling a lumbering transporter 
all over the place. Why, man, you’d be the laughing stock of Europe.’ 

‘Maybe.’ Harlow’s voice was quiet, without bitterness. ‘But not half as much 
a laughing stock as I’d be if people knew the real reason for my retiral, Mr. 

Mac Alpine.’ 

‘Mr. MacAlpine? Mr. MacAlpine? I’m always James to you, my boy. Always 
have been:’- 

‘Not any more, sir. You could explain about my so-called double vision, say 
that I’ve been retained as a specialist adviser. What more natural? Besides, you 
do need a transporter driver. 

MacAlpine shook his head in slow and complete’ finality. ‘Johnny Harlow 
will never drive any transporter of mine and that’s the end of it.’ 

MacAlpine covered his face with his hands. Harlow . looked at Dunnet who 
jerked his head towards the door. Harlow nodded and left the room. 

Dunnet let some seconds pass in silence, then he said, picking his words 
carefully and without emotion : ‘And that’s the end of me. I’ll say goodbye to 
you, then, James MacAlpine. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my assignment. 
Except for the last minute.’ 

MacAlpine removed his hands, slowly lifted his head and stared at Dunnet in 
wonderment. He said: ‘What on earth do you mean?’ 

‘I mean this. Isn’t it obvious? I value my health too much to stay around and 
feel sick every time I think of what you’ve done. That boy lives for motor 
racing, it’s the only thing he knows and now he has n& place left in the world to 
go. And I would remind you, James MacAlpine, that in the space of four short 
years the Coronado has been hauled up from the depths of near obscurity and 
made into the most successful and respected Grand Prix racing car in the world 
through one thing and one thing only — the incomparable driving genius of that 
boy to whom you have just shown the door. Not you, James, not you. Johnny 
Harlow made Coronado. But you can’t afford to be associated with failure, he’s 
no use to you any more so you drop him into the discard. I hope you sleep well 
tonight, Mr. MacAlpine. You should do. You have every reason to be proud of 

Dunnet turned to leave. MacAlpine, with tears in his eyes, spoke softly. 

Dunnet turned. 

MacAlpine said: ‘If you ever speak to me like that again I’ll break your 
blasted neck. I’m tired, I’m dead tired, and I want to sleep before dinner. Go tell 
him he can have any bloody job he likes on the Coronado-mine, if he so cares.’ 

Dunnet said: I’ve been bloody rude. Please accept my apologies. And thank 
you very much, James.’ 

MacAlpine smiled faintly. ‘Not Mr. MacAlpine?’ 

‘I said thank you, James’.’ 

Both men smiled at each other. Dunnet left, closing the door with a quiet 
hand, went down in to the lobby where Harlow and Mary were seated side by 

side, untouched drinks before them. The aura of profound despondency that 
overhung their table was almost palpable. Dunnet picked up a drink from the bar, 
joined Harlow and Mary, smiled broadly, lifted his glass and said: ‘Cheers. 

Here’s to the fastest transporter driver in Europe.’ 

Harlow left his drink untouched. He said : ‘Alexis, I’m in one of my less 
humorous moods this evening.’ 

Dunnet said cheerfully: ‘Mr. James MacAlpine has had a sudden and 
complete change of mind and heart. His final words were ‘Go and tell him he 
can have any blasted job he likes on the Coronado-mine, if he so cares.” Harlow 
shook his head. Dunnet went on: ‘God’s sake, Johnny, I’m not having you on.’ 

Harlow shook his head again. ‘I’m not doubting you, Alexis. I’m just 
flabbergasted. How on earth did you manage-well, perhaps it’s just as well you 
don’t tell me.’ He smiled faintly. ‘I don’t think I really want Mr. MacAlpine’s 

‘Oh, Johnny!’ There were tears in her eyes but not tears of sorrow, not in that 
radiant face. She rose, flung her arms around his neck and kissed him on the 

Harlow, though slightly startled, was not noticeably embarrassed. 

That’s my girl,’ Dunnet said approvingly. ‘A last long farewell to the fastest 
lorry driver in Europe.’ 

She stared at him. ‘What on earth do you mean?’ 

The transporter leaves for Marseilles tonight. Someone has to drive it there. 
This is a job usually reserved for the transporter driver.’ 

Harlow said: ‘My God! I’d rather overlooked that part of it. Now?’ 

‘As ever was. There appears to be a considerable degree of urgency. I think 
you’d better see James now.’ 

Harlow nodded, rose and left for his room where he changed into dark 
trousers, navy roll-neck sweater and leather jacket. He went to see MacAlpine 
and found him stretched out on his bed looking ill and pale and little short of 
positively haggard. 

MacAlpine said: I have to admit, Johnny, that the reason for my decision is 
based largely on self-interest. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, good mechanics 
though they are, couldn’t drive a wheel-barrow. Jacobson has already left for 
Marseilles to make loading arrangements for the morning. It’s asking a lot, I 
know, but I must have number four, the new X car and the spare engine at the 
Vignolles test track by noon tomorrow — we have the track for two days only. A 
lot of driving, I know, and you’ll have only a few hours’ sleep, if that. You’ll 

have to start loading in Marseilles by 6 a.m.’ 

Tine. Now what shall I do with my own car?’ 

‘Ah! The only transporter driver in Europe with his own Ferrari. Alexis will 
take my Aston while I, personally, will drive your rusty old bucket of bolts to 
Vignolles tomorrow. Then you’ll have to take it to our Marseilles garage and 
leave it there. For keeps, I’m afraid.’ 

‘I understand, Mr. Mac Alpine.’ 

‘Mr. MacAlpine, Mr. MacAlpine. Are you sure this is what you want to do, 

‘Never surer, sir.’ 

Harlow went down to the lounge to find that Mary and Dunnet were no longer 
there. He went upstairs again, found Dunnet in his room and asked: ‘Where’s 

‘Gone for a walk.’ 

‘Bloody chilly evening to go for a walk.’ 

‘I don’t think she’s in any condition to feel the cold,’ Dunnet said drily. 
‘Euphoria, I believe they call it. Seen the old boy?’ 

‘Yes. The old boy, as you call him, really is becoming an old boy. He’s put on 
five years in the last six months.’ 

‘More like ten years. Understandable with his wife vanishing just like that. 
Maybe if you’d lost someone to whom you’ve been married for twenty-five 
years —’ 

‘He’s lost more than that.’ 

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ 

‘I don’t even know myself. His nerve, his self-confidence, his drive, his will 
to fight and -win.’ Harlow smiled. ‘Some time this week we’ll give him those 
lost ten years back again.’ 

‘You’re the most incredibly arrogant, self-confident bastard I’ve ever known,’ 
Dunnet said admiringly. When Harlow made no reply, he shrugged and sighed. 
‘Well, to be a world champion I suppose you have to have some little belief in 
yourself. And now what?’ 

‘Off. On my way out I’ll pick up from the hotel safe this little bauble that I’m 
going to deliver to our friend in the rue St Pierre — seems a damned sight safer 
than trying to walk to the Post Office. How about having a drink in the bar and 
seeing if anyone’s interested in me ?’ 

‘Why should they be? They have the right cassette — or think they have, 
which amounts to the same thing.’ 

‘That’s as maybe. But it’s just possible that the un-godly might change their 
minds when they see me taking this envelope from the hotel safe, rip it open, 
throw the envelope away,’ examine the cassette and stick it in my pocket. They 
know they’ve been fooled once. You can bet your life that they’ll be more than 
prepared to believe that they’ve been fooled twice.’ 

For long seconds Dunnet stared at Harlow in total disbelief. When he spoke, 
his voice was a whisper. He said: This isn’t just asking for trouble. This is 
ordering your own pine box.’ 

‘Only the best of oak for world champions. With gold-plated handles. Come 

They went down the stairs together. Dunnet turned off towards the bar while 
Harlow went to the desk. As Dunnet’s eyes roved round the lobby, Harlow asked 
for and received his envelope, opened it, extracted the cassette and examined it 
carefully before putting it in an inside pocket of his leather jacket. As he turned 
away from the desk, Dunnet wandered up almost casually and said in a quiet 
voice. Tracchia. His eyes almost popped out of his head. He almost ran to the 
nearest phone booth.’ 

Harlow nodded, said nothing, passed through the swing doors, then ‘halted as 
his way was barred by a leather-coated figure. He said: ‘What are you doing 
here, Mary? It’s bitterly cold.’ 

‘I just wanted to say goodbye, that’s all.’ 

‘You could have said goodbye inside.’ 

‘I’m a very private person.’ 

‘Besides, you’ll be seeing me again tomorrow. In Vignolles.’ 

Will I, Johnny? Will I?’ 

‘Tsk! Tsk! Someone else who doesn’t believe I can drive. ‘ 

‘Don’t try to be funny, Johnny, because I’m not feeling that way. I’m feeling 
sick. I’ve this awful feeling that something dreadful is going to happen. To you.’ 

Harlow said lightly: ‘It’s this half-Highland blood of yours. Fey is what they 
call it. Having the second sight. If it’s any consolation to you the second-sighters 
have an almost perfect 100 per cent record of failure.’ 

‘Don’t laugh at me, Johnny.’ There were tears in her voice. 

He put an arm round her shoulders. 

‘Laugh at you? With you, yes. At you, never.’ 

‘Come back to me, Johnny.’ 

‘I’ll always come back to you, Mary.’ 

What? What did you say, Johnny?’ 

‘A slip of the tongue.’ He squeezed her shoulders, pecked her briskly on the 
cheek and strode off into the gathering darkness. 


The giant Coronado transporter, its vast silhouette outlined by at least a score 
of lights on the sides and back, not to mention its four powerful headlamps, 
rumbled through the darkness and along the almost wholly deserted roads at a 
speed which would not have found very much favour with the Italian police 
speed patrols, had there been any such around that night which, fortunately, there 

Harlow had elected to take the autostrada across to Turin then turned south to 
Cuneo and was now approaching the Col de Tende, that fearsome mountain pass 
with the tunnel at the top which marks the boundary between Italy and France. 
Even in an ordinary car, in daylight and in good dry driving conditions, it calls 
for the closest of care and attention: the steepness of the ascent and descent and 
the seemingly endless series of murderous hairpin bends on both sides of the 
tunnel make it as dangerous and difficult a pass as any in Europe, But to drive a 
huge transporter, at the limit of its adhesion and road-holding in rain that was 
now beginning to fall quite heavily, was an experience that was hazardous to a 

For some, it was plainly not only hazardous but harrowing to a degree. The 
red-haired twin mechanics, one curled up in the bucket seat beside Harlow, the 
other stretched out on the narrow bunk behind the front seats, though quite 
exhausted were clearly never more wide awake in their lives. Not to put too fine 
a point on it, they were frankly terrified, either staring in horror at each other or 
closing their eyes as they slid and swayed wildly on each successive hairpin 
bend. And if they did leave the road it wouldn’t be just to bump across the 
surrounding terrain: it would be, to fall a , very long way indeed and their 
chances- <of survival were non-existent. The twins were beginning to realize 
why old Henry had never made it as a Grand Prix driver. 

If Harlow was aware of the very considerable inner turmoil he was causing, 
he gave no signs of it. His entire being was concentrated on his driving and on 
scanning the road two, even three hairpin bends ahead. Tracchia and, by now, 
Tracchia’s associates knew that he was carrying the cassette and that they 
intended to separate him from that cassette Harlow did not for a moment doubt. 
When and where they would make their attempt was a matter for complete 
conjecture. Crawling round the hairpins leading to the top of the Col de Tende 
made them the perfect target for an ambush. Whoever his adversaries were, 
Harlow was convinced they were based in Marseilles. It was unlikely that they 
would care to take the risk of running foul of the Italian law. He was certain that 

he hadn’t been trailed from Monza. The chances were that they didn’t even know 
what route he was taking. They might wait until he was much nearer their home 
base or even arrived at it. On the other hand they might be considering the 
possibility that he was getting rid of the cassette en route. Speculation seemed 
not only unrewarding but useless. He put the wide variety of possibilities out of 
his mind and concentrated on his driving while still keeping every sense alert for 
danger. As it was they made the top of the Col without incident, passed through 
the Italian and French Customs and started on the wickedly winding descent on 
the other side. 

When he came to La Giandola, he hesitated briefly. He could take the road to 
Ventimiglia thus taking advantage of the new autoroutes westwards along the 
Riviera or take the shorter but more winding direct route to Nice. He took into 
account that the Ventimiglia route would entail encountering the Italian and 
French Customs not once but twice again and decided on the direct route. 

He made Nice without incident, followed the auto-route past Cannes, reached 
Toulon and took the N8 to Marseilles. It was about twenty miles out of Cannes, 
near the village of Beausset, that it happened. 

As they rounded a bend they could see, about a quarter of a mile ahead, four 
lights, two stationary, two moving. The two moving lights were red and 
obviously hand-held, for they swung steadily through arcs of about ninety 

There was an abrupt change in the engine note as Harlow dropped a gear. The 
sound brought the dozing twins to something like near wakefulness just in time 
to identify, a bare second after Harlow, the legends on the two stationary lights, 
red and blue and flashing alternately : one said STOP, the other POLICE. There 
were at least five men behind the lights, two of them standing in the middle of 
the road. 

Harlow was hunched far forward over the wheel, his eyes narrowed until even 
the pupils seemed in danger of disappearing. He made an abrupt decision, arm 
and leg moved in swift and perfect unison, and again the engine note changed as 
the big diesel dropped another gear. Ahead, the two moving red lamps stopped 
swinging. It must have been evident to those wielding them that the transporter 
was slowing to a halt. 

Fifty yards distant from the road-block Harlow stamped the accelerator pedal 
flat to the floor. The transporter, designedly, had been in the correct gear to pick 
up maximum acceleration and it was in that gear that Harlow held it, the engine 
revolutions climbing as the distance between the transporter and the flashing 

lights ahead steadily and rapidly decreased. The two men with the red lights 
moved rapidly apart: it had dawned on them, and a very rude awakening it must 
have been, that the transporter had no intention of stopping. 

Inside the cab the faces of Tweedledum and Tweedledee registered identical 
expressions of horrified and incredulous apprehension. Harlow’s face registered 
no expression at all as he watched the shadowy figures who had been standing so 
confidently in the middle of the road fling themselves to safety towards either 
verge. Above the still mounting roar of the diesel could be heard the sound of the 
splintering of glass and the screeching of buckling metal as the transporter over¬ 
ran the pedestal-mounted flashing lights in the middle of the road. Twenty yards 
farther on there came a series of heavy thuds from the rear of the transporter, a 
drumming sound that continued for another thirty or forty yards until Harlow 
swung the swaying transporter round a forty-five turn in the road. Harlow 
changed up once and then again into top gear. He appeared to be quite 
unconcerned which was considerably more than could be said for the twins. 

Tweedledum said in a stricken voice: ‘Jesus, Johnny, are you mad? You’ll 
have us all in prison before the night is out. That was a police block, man!’ 

‘A police block without police cars, police motorcycles or police uniforms : I 
wonder why the good Lord gave you pair two eyes apiece?’ 

Tweedledee said : ‘But those police signs —’ 

‘I will refrain from giving you pitying looks,’ Harlow said kindly. Please do 
not overtax your minds. I would also point out that the French police do not wear 
masks, which this lot did, nor do they fix silencers to their guns.’.’ ‘Silencers?’ 
The twins spoke as one. 

‘You heard those thumps and bumps on the back of the transporter? What do 
you think they were doing -throwing stones after us?’ 

Tweedledum said : then what —’ 

‘Hi-jackers. Members of an honoured and respected profession in these parts.’ 
Harlow trusted he would be forgiven for this wicked slur on the honest citizens 
of Provence. But it was the best he could think of on the spur of the moment and, 
besides, the twins, though excellent mechanics, were of a rather simple cast of 
mind who would readily believe anything that a person of the stature of Johnny 
Harlow were to tell them. 

‘But how could they have known we were coming?’ 

They didn’t.’ Harlow was improvising rapidly, they’re usually in radio contact 
with lookouts posted a kilometre or so on either side of them. We’ve probably 
just passed the second one. When a likely-looking prospect - such as us — 

comes along it takes only a few seconds to have the lights in position and 

‘Abackward lot, those Froggies,’ Tweedledum observed. 

‘Aren’t they just? They haven’t even got round to great train robberies yet.’ 

The twins composed themselves for slumber. Harlow,, apparently tireless, was 
as alert and watchful as ever. After a few minutes, in his outside rear mirror, he 
caught sight of a pair of powerful headlights approaching at high speed. As they 
closed, Harlow briefly considered moving out to the middle of the road to block 
its passage just in case the occupant or occupants belonged to whatever 
opposition there might be but he dismissed the idea immediately. If they were ill- 
disposed, all they would have to do would be to shoot holes in his rear tyres at 
their leisure, as effective a way as any of bringing the transporter to a halt. 

As it happened, the person or persons showed no signs of hostility, but one 
curious event occurred. As it overtook the transporter all the car’s lights, both 
front and rear, went out and remained out until it was at least a hundred yards 
ahead, the driver of the car seeing by courtesy of the transporter’s headlights: 
when its lights did come on again it was too far away for its rear numberplate to 
be identified. 

Only seconds later, Harlow saw another pair of powerful headlights closing at 
even higher speed. This oar did not cut its lights as it overtook the transporter 
and it would have been most improbable had it done so for it was a police car 
with both siren and flashing blue light in splendid working order. Harlow 
permitted himself an almost beatific smile, and, just over a mile later, still had an 
expression of pleased anticipation on his face as he gently braked the transporter. 

Ahead, the police car, blue lamp still flashing, was parked by the side of the 
road. Immediately ahead of it was another car, with a policeman, pad in hand, 
interrogating the driver through an opened window. There could be little 
question what the interrogation was about. Except on the autoroutes, the legal 
speed limit in France is 110 kph : the man being interrogated must have been 
doing at least 150 when he had passed the transporter. The transporter, still 
moving slowly, pulled out to the left to overtake both cars and Harlow had no 
difficulty in making out the number-plate of the front car. It read PNIIIK. 

Like most major cities, Marseilles has places well worth looking at and others 
that do not qualify in that category. Certain sections of north-west Marseilles 
unmistakably belong in the latter category, seedy and run-’down ex-suburban 
areas, now more industrial than they are residential. The rue Gerard was typical 
of such an area. While it might barely escape being described as an eye-sore, it 

was a singularly unprepossessing street almost entirely given over to small 
factories and large garages. The largest building in the street was a brick and 
corrugated iron monstrosity about half-way along on the left. Above the huge 
ribbed metal door was, in foot-high letters, the single word CORONADO. 

As Harlow trundled the transporter down the me Gerard he seemed unmoved 
by the unlovely spectacle before him. The twins were sound asleep. As Harlow 
approached the garage the metal door began to roll upwards and as Harlow 
swung out to make his approach, lights came on inside. 

The garage was a cavernous place, eighty feet long and about fifty in width. It 
seemed ancient in construction and appearance but was about as well-kept, well- 
swept and clean as anyone could reasonably expect such a garage to be. Lined 
up against the right-hand wall were no fewer than three Coronado Formula 1 
cars, and, pedestal-mounted beyond those, three unmistakable Ford-Cosworth V- 
8 engines. Nearest the door, on the same side, was a black Citroen DS21. The 
left-hand side of the garage was given over to rows of lavishly equipped work¬ 
benches while at the rear of the garage, stacked head-high, were dozens of crates 
of spares and tyres. Running both longitudinally and laterally were overhead 
beams for moving the engines about and for loading up the transporter. 

Harlow eased the transporter in and stopped it precisely under the main 
longitudinal loading beam. He stopped the engine, shook the sleeping twins and 
climbed down to the garage floor. Jacobson was there to meet him. He didn’t 
seem particularly glad to meet him but then Jacobson never seemed particularly 
glad to meet anyone. He looked at his watch and said grudgingly: Two o’clock. 
Fast trip.’ 

'Empty road. What now?’ 

‘Bed. We’ve an old villa just round the corner. It’s not much but it serves. 
We’ll be here in the morning to start loading — after we unload, that is. The two 
resident mechanics will be here to help us.’ 

‘Jacques and Harry?’ 

They’ve left.’ Jacobson looked even more sour than usual. ‘Homesick, they 
said. They’re always getting homesick. Homesick means too much hard work. 
New boys are Italian. Not half bad, though.’ 

Jacobson did not appear to have noticed the back of the transporter until then. 
He said: ‘What the hell are those marks?’ 

‘Bullets. Somebody tried to hi-jack us this side of Toulon. At least I think it 
was an attempted hi-jack but if it was they weren’t very good at their job.’ 

‘And why the hell should anyone want to hi-jack you? What good could a 

couple of Coronados be to anyone? 5 

‘None. Maybe their information was wrong. This is the kind of wagon they 
use for transporting those very large cargoes of scotch or cigarettes. A million, 
two million francs a load — something really worth hi-jacking. Anyway, no 
harm done. Fifteen minutes with a panel-beater and a spray gun and she’ll be as 
good as new.’ 

‘I’ll report this to the police in the morning,’ Jacob-son said. ‘Under French 
law it’s an offence not to report such an incident. Not,’ he added bitterly, that it 
will do any bloody good.’ 

The four men left the garage. As they did, Harlow glanced casually at the 
black Citroen. The number-plate read PNIIIK. 

As Jacobson had said the old villa round the corner was not much but it 
served. Barely. Harlow sat in a chair by the side of a sparsely furnished room 
which, apart from a narrow bed and some worn linoleum, had as its only other 
item of furniture another chair which served as a bedside table. The window of 
the bedroom, which was on street level, had no curtains, just thin gauze netting. 
Although the room light was out, some faint degree of illumination was afforded 
by the weak . street lights outside. Harlow twitched the netting fractionally aside 
and peered out. The mean, narrow little street outside, compared to which the rue 
Gerard was an arterial highway, was completely deserted. 

Harlow glanced at his watch. The luminous hands said that it was two fifteen. 
Suddenly Harlow cocked his head, listening intently. It could have been his 
imagination, he thought; or perhaps what he heard was the sound of faint 
footfalls in the passageway outside. Noiselessly, he crossed to his bed and lay 
down on it. It did not creak because it was a flock mattress that had a long if 
probably dishonourable history behind it. His hand reached under the pillow, 
which was of the same vintage as the mattress, and brought out his black-jack. 

He slipped the thong over his right wrist then returned his right hand under the 

The door opened stealthily. Breathing deeply and evenly, Harlow partly 
opened his eyes. A faint shadow stood in the doorway, but it was impossible to 
recognize who it was. Harlow remained as he was, perfectly relaxed and 
apparently soundly asleep. After a few seconds, the intruder closed the door as 
stealthily as he had opened it and Harlow’s now highly attuned hearing could 
distinguish the soft sound of footsteps fading away. Harlow sat up, rubbing his 
chin in puzzled indecision, then left his bed and took up his ‘vantage point by the 
window.’ A man, this time clearly identifiable as Jacobson, had just left the 

house. He crossed the street and as he did so a dark car, a small Renault, rounded 
the corner and stopped almost directly opposite. Jacobson stooped and talked to 
the driver, who opened the door and stepped out. He removed his dark overcoat, 
folded it neatly — there was an unpleasant and rather menacing certainty about 
all his movements - placed it in the back seat, patted his pockets as if to reassure 
himself that nothing was missing, nodded to Jacobson and began to cross the 
street. Jacobson walked away. 

Harlow retreated to his bed, where he lay with his black-jacked right hand 
under his pillow, facing the window, his eyes fractionally open. Almost at once 
he saw a shadowy figure, his features indistinguishable because he was 
illuminated from behind, appear at the window and peer in. He brought up his 
right hand and examined what it held : there was nothing indistinguishable about 
this, it was a large and very unpleasant looking pistol, and as Harlow watched he 
slid back a catch on the side. It was then that Harlow saw that the gun had a 
lengthy cylindrical object screwed on to the end of the muzzle. A silencer, a 
piece of equipment designed to silence a shot for a fraction of a second and 
Harlow for ever. The figure disappeared. 

Harlow left his bed with considerable alacrity. A blackjack, as compared to a 
silenced gun, had its distinct limitations. He crossed the room and took up 
position against the wall about two feet from the hinged side of the door. 

For ten long seconds, which even Harlow found rather wearing on the nerves, 
there was total silence. Then there came the barely audible creak from a floor¬ 
board — the villa didn’t go in much for deep-piled carpeting — in the 
passageway outside. The door handle depressed with almost millimetric stealth 
then slowly returned to position as the door, very very smoothly and gently, 
began to open. The gap between the door and jamb widened until it was about 
ten inches. Momentarily, the door ceased to move. A head began to poke its way 
cautiously through the gap. The intruder had a thin swarthy face, black hair 
plastered close to his narrow head and a pencil-line moustache. 

Harlow leaned back on his left leg, raised his right leg and smashed the heel 
of his right foot against the door, just below the key-hole, from which the key 
had been thoughtfully and earlier removed. There was a muffled half-cough, 
half-scream of agony. Harlow jerked the door wide open and a short, thin dark- 
suited man stumbled into the room. Both hands, the right still clutching the gun, 
were clasped to the blood-masked shattered middle of his face. The nose was 
certainly broken : what had happened to cheekbones and teeth were, at the 
moment, a matter for the most idle conjecture. 

It certainly didn’t concern Harlow. His face was entirely without pity. He 
swung his black-jack, none too lightly, and brought it down over the intruder’s 
right ear. Moaning, the man sank to his knees. Harlow took the gun from an 
unresisting hand and ran his free band over the man’s body. At his belt he 
discovered a sheath knife, which he withdrew. It was six inches long, double- 
edged, needle-pointed and razor-sharp. Gingerly, Harlow slipped the knife into 
his outside leather jacket pocket, changed his mind, switched over gun and knife, 
entwined his hand in the man’s black greasy hair and pulled him ruthlessly to his 
feet. Equally ruthlessly, he pressed the blade of the knife into his back until he 
was sure the tip had penetrated the skin. 

Harlow said : ‘Outside.’ 

With the knife pressing ever deeper into his spine, Harlow’s would-be killer 
had little option. The two men emerged from the villa and crossed the deserted 
street towards the little black Renault. Harlow pushed the man into the front seat 
while he himself got into the back. ‘ 

Harlow said : ‘Drive. Police.’ 

When the man spoke it was, understandably, with some muffled difficulty. He 
said: ‘No can drive.’ 

Harlow reached for his black-jack and struck the man with approximately the 
same force as before but this time Over the left ear. The man sagged wearily 
against the wheel. 

Harlow said: ‘Drive. Police.’ 

He drove, if his performance could be called driving. It was, understandably, 
the most erratic and harrowing journey Harlow had ever experienced. Apart 
from the fact that the man was barely conscious, he had to drive with one hand 
only, having to take his hand off the wheel to change gear, using the other hand 
to hold a blood-saturated handkerchief against his shattered face. Fortunately, the 
streets were deserted and the police station only ten minutes away. 

Harlow half-pushed, half-carried the unhappy Italian into the station, 
deposited him not too gently on a bench, then went to the desk. Behind it were 
two large, burly and apparently genial policemen, both in uniform, one an 
inspector, the other a sergeant. They were studying with surprise and 
considerable interest the man on the bench who was now in a state of almost, 
complete collapse, holding both hands to his blood- ‘ smeared face. 

Harlow said : ‘I want to lodge a complaint about this-man.’ 

The inspector said mildly: ‘It looks more to me that he should be lodging a 
complaint against you.’ 

Harlow said: 'You will be requiring some identification. 5 He pulled out his 
passport and-driving licence but the inspector waved them away without even 
looking at them. 

'Even to the police your face is better known than that of any criminal in 
Europe. But I had thought, Mr. Harlow, that your sport was motor racing, not 
boxing. 5 

The sergeant, who had been studying the Italian with some interest, touched 
the inspector on the arm. 

‘Well, well, well, 5 he said, <If it isn’t our old friend and true, Luigi the Light- 
fingered. Difficult to recognize him, though. 5 He looked at Harlow. ‘How did 
you make his acquaintance, sir? 5 

‘He came visiting me. I’m sorry there was some violence. 5 

‘Apologies are out of order, 5 the inspector said. ‘Luigi should be beaten up 
regularly, preferably once a week. But this one should last him a couple of 
months. Was it — ah — necessary—?’ 

Wordlessly, Harlow produced the knife and gun from his pockets and laid 
them on the counter. 

The inspector nodded. ‘With his record, a minimum of five years. You will 
press charges of course? 5 

‘Please do it for me. I have urgent business. I’ll look in later, if I may. 
Incidentally, I don’t think Luigi came to rob me. I think he came to kill me. I’d 
like to find out who sent him. 5 

‘I think that could be arranged, Mr. Harlow. 5 There was a grim-faced 
thoughtfulness about the inspector that boded ill for Luigi. 

Harlow thanked them, left, climbed into the Renault and drove off. Apart 
from the fact that he had no compunction in the world about borrowing Luigi’s 
car, it was highly unlikely that its owner would be in any fit state to use it for 
quite some time to come. It had taken Luigi ten minutes to drive from the villa to 
the police station. It took Harlow just under four, and then less than another 
thirty seconds to be parked fifty 5 yards away from the big roller door of the 
Coronado garage. The door was closed but bars of light could be seen on either 
side of it. 

Lifteen minutes later Harlow stiffened and leaned forward. A small side door 
let into the main door had opened and four men emerged. Even in the negligible 
street lighting provided for the rue Gerard, Harlow had no difficulty in 
recognizing Jacobson, Neubauer and Tracchia. The fourth man he had never 
seen before: presumably he was one of Jacobson’s mechanics. Jacob-son left the 

closing and locking of the door to the others and walked quickly up the street in 
the direction of the villa. As he came abreast on the other side of the street, he 
didn’t as much as glance in Harlow’s direction. There are thousands of small 
black Renaults on the streets of Marseilles. 

The other three men locked the door, climbed into a Citroen and drove off. 
Harlow’s car, lightless, pulled away from the kerb and followed. It was to be in 
no sense a chase or pursuit, just two cars moving at a leisurely pace through the 
suburbs of the city, the one following the other at varying but always discreet 
distances. Only on one occasion did Harlow fall well back and switch on his 
side-lights at the sight of an approaching police car, but he had no difficulty in 
making up the lost ground. 

Eventually, they came to a fairly broad tree-lined boulevard in an obviously 
well-to- do area. Large villas, hiding behind exceptionally high brick walls, lined 
both sides of the road. The Citroen rounded a right-angled corner. Fifteen 
seconds later Harlow did the same and immediately switched on his side-lights. 
About 150 yards ahead the Citroen had pulled up outside a villa and a man —it 
was Tracchia —had already left the car and was advancing towards the gates 
with a key in his hand. Harlow pulled out to overtake the parked car and as he 
did so he saw the gates swing open. The other two occupants of the Citroen 
ignored the passing Renault. 

Harlow turned into the first side street and parked. He got out, pulled on 
Luigi’s dark coat and lifted the collar high. He walked back to the boulevard 
which bore the corner name plate of me Georges Sand and made his way along it 
till he came to the villa where the Citroen had turned in. It was called The 
Hermitage, a name that Harlow considered singularly inappropriate in the 
circumstances. The walls on either side of the gate were at least ten feet high, 
topped with broken bottle glass embedded in concrete. The gates were of the 
same height and had what appeared to be very sharp spikes on top. Twenty yards 
beyond the gates was the villa itself, a rambling old-fashioned Edwardian 
building much behung with balconies. Lights showed through chinks in the 
curtains on both floors. 

Cautiously, Harlow tested the gates. They were locked. He glanced both ways 
to ensure that the boulevard was deserted, then produced a ring of fairly large 
keys. He studied the lock, studied the keys, selected one and tried it. It worked 
first time. He pocketed the keys and walked away. 

Fifteen minutes later, Harlow parked his car in an undistinguished little street, 
almost an alleyway. He mounted a flight of street steps and at the top did not 

even have to knock or ring a bell. The door opened and an elderly man, plump, 
grey-haired and wrapped in a Chinese dressing-gown, beckoned him inside. The 
room into which he led Harlow seemed to be a cross between an electronic 
laboratory and a photographer’s dark room. It was filled with, festooned with, 
impressively scientific-looking equipment which appeared to be of the most 
advanced kind. It did, however, possess two comfortable arm-chairs. The elderly 
man waved Harlow towards one of them. 

He said : 'Alexis Dunnet warned me, but you do come at a most inconvenient 
hour, John Harlow. Pray, a seat.’ 

‘I have come upon most inconvenient business, Giancarlo, and I haven’t time 
to sit down.’ He produced the film cassette and handed it over. 'How long to 
develop this and give me separate enlargements of each?’ 

‘How many?’ 

'Frames, you mean?’ Giancarlo nodded. ‘Sixty. Give or take.’ 

‘You do not ask for much.’ Giancarlo was heavily sarcastic. 'This afternoon.’ 

Harlow said: 'Jean-Claude is in town?’ 

Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Code?’ Harlow nodded. ‘He is. I will see what he can do.’ 

Harlow left. On the way back to the villa he pondered the problem of 
Jacobson. Almost certainly the first thing that Jacobson would have done on his 
return to the villa would have been to check his, Harlow’s, room. The absence of 
Harlow would have caused him no surprise at all: no worthwhile assassin was 
going to incriminate his employer by leaving a corpse in the room next to his: 
there were acres of water in and around Marseilles and heavy lead weights 
would not be difficult to come by if one knew where to look and Luigi die Light- 
fingered had given the distinct impression of one who wouldn’t have had to look 
too far. 

Jacobson was going to have a mild heart attack whether he met Harlow now 
or at the arranged meeting time of 6 a.m. But if he did not meet Harlow until 6 
he was going to assume that Harlow had been absent until that time, and 
Jacobson, who was nothing if not suspicious, was going to wonder like fury 
what Harlow had been up to in the long watches of the night. It would be better 
to confront Jacobson now. 

In the event, he had no option. He entered the villa just as Jacobson was about 
to leave it. Harlow regarded two things with interest: the bunch of keys dangling 
from Jacobson’s hand — no doubt he was en route for the garage to perform 
some double-crossing operation on his friends and colleagues — and the look of 
utter consternation on the face of Jacobson, who must have been briefly and 

understandably under the impression that Harlow’s ghost had come back to 
haunt him. But Jacobson was tough and his recovery, if not immediate, was 
made in a commendably short time. 

Tour o’clock in the bloody morning !’ Jacobson’s shock showed through in 
his strained and over-loud voice. ‘Where the hell have you been, Harlow?’ 

‘You’re not my keeper, Jacobson.’ 

‘I bloody well am, too. I’m the boss now, Harlow. I’ve been looking and 
waiting for you for an hour. I was just about to contact the police.’ 

‘Well, now, that would have been ironic. I’ve just come from them.’ 

‘You’ve —what do you mean, Harlow?’ 

‘What I say. I’m just back from handing over a thug to the police, a lad who 
came calling on me in the still watches of the night, gun and knife in hand. I 
don’t think he came to tell me bed-time stories. He wasn’t very good at his job. 
He’ll be in bed now, a hospital bed, under heavy police guard.’ 

Jacobson said: ‘Come inside. I want to hear more about this.’ 

They went inside and Harlow told Jacobson as much as he thought it was 
pmdent for Jacobson to know of his night’s activities, then said: ‘God, I’m tired. 
I’ll be asleep in one minute flat.’ 

Harlow returned to his spartan accommodation and took up watch by the 
window. In less than three minutes Jacobson appeared in the street, the bunch of 
keys still in his hand and headed in the direction of the rue Gerard, headed, 
presumably, for the Coronado garage. What his intentions were Harlow for the 
moment neither knew nor cared. 

Harlow left the house and drove off in Luigi’s Renault in a direction opposite 
to that which Jacobson had taken. After about four blocks, he turned into a 
narrow lane, stopped the engine, ensured that the doors were locked from the 
inside, set his wrist alarm for 5.45 a.m., and composed himself for a very brief 
sleep. As a place to lay his weary head Johnny Harlow had developed a powerful 
and permanent aversion to the Coronado villa. 


It was just coming up for dawn when Harlow and the twins entered the 
Coronado garage. Jacobson and an unknown mechanic were already there. They 
looked, Harlow reflected, just as exhausted as he himself felt. 

Harlow said: thought you told me you had two new boys?’ 

‘One of them didn’t turn up. When he does,’ Jacob-son said grimly, ‘he’s out. 
Come on, let’s empty the transporter and load up.’ 

The brilliant early morning sun, which presaged rain later in the day, was over 
the roof-tops when Harlow backed the transporter out into the rue Gerard. 
Jacobson said: ‘On your way then, the three of you. I’ll be in Vignolles about a 
couple of hours after you. Some business to attend to first.’ 

Harlow didn’t even bother to make the natural inquiry as to what that business 
might be. In the first place he knew that whatever answer he got would be a lie. 
In the second place he knew what the answer was anyway: Jacobson would have 
an urgent appointment with his associates in The Hermitage in the rue Georges 
Sand to acquaint them with the misfortunes of Luigi the Light-fingered. So he 
merely contented himself with a nod and drove off. 

To the twins’ vast relief, the journey to Vignolles was not a replica of the hair- 
raising trip between Monza and Marseilles. Harlow drove almost sedately. In the 
first place, he had time in hand. Then again he knew he was so tired that he had 
lost the fine edge of his concentration. Finally, within an hour of leaving 
Marseilles, it had begun to rain, lightly at first then with increasing intensity, 
which drastically reduced visibility. Nevertheless, the transporter reached its 
destination by 11.30. 

Harlow pulled the transporter to a stop mid-way between the stands and a 
large chalet-like building and climbed down, followed by the twins. It was still 
raining, and the skies were heavily overcast. Harlow gazed round the grey and 
empty desolation of the Vignolles track, stretched his arms and yawned. 

‘Home, sweet home. God, I’m tired. And hungry. Let’s see what the canteen 
has to offer.’ 

The canteen had not, in fact, a great deal to offer but all three men were too 
hungry to complain. As they ate, the canteen slowly began to fill up, mainly with 
officials and employees of the track. Everyone knew Harlow, but almost no one 
acknowledged his presence. Harlow, remained quite indifferent. At noon he 
pushed back his chair and made for the door and as he reached for the handle the 
door opened and Mary entered. She more than over-compensated for the general 
lack of welcome shown by the others. She smiled at him in delight, wrapped her 

arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. Harlow cleared his throat and 
looked round the canteen where the diners were now showing a vast degree 
more interest in him. 

He said : 'I thought you said you were a very private person.’ 

‘I am. But I hug everyone. You know that.’ 

‘Well, thank you very much.’ 

She rubbed her cheek. ‘You’re scruffy, filthy and unshaven.’ 

‘What do you expect of a face that hasn’t seen water or felt a blade for 
twenty-four hours?’ 

She smiled. ‘Mr. Dunnet would like to see you in the chalet, Johnny. Though 
why he couldn’t come to see you in the canteen — ‘ 

‘I’m sure Mr. Dunnet has his reasons. Such as not wanting to be seen in my 

She wrinkled her nose to show her disbelief and led the way out to -the rain. 
She clung to his arm and said: ‘I was so scared, Johnny. So scared.’ 

‘And so you’d every right to be,’ Harlow said solemnly. ‘It’s a perilous 
mission lugging a transporter to Marseilles and back.’ - ‘Johnny.’ 


They hurried through the rain to the chalet, up the wooden steps, across -the 
porch and into the hall. As the door closed, Mary reached for Harlow and kissed 
him. As a kiss, it was neither sisterly nor platonic. Harlow blinked his 
unresisting astonishment. 

She said: ‘But I don’t do that to everyone. Or anyone.’ 

‘You, Mary, are a little minx.’ 

‘Ah, yes. But a lovable little minx.’ 

‘I suppose so. I suppose so.’ 

Rory watched this scene from the head of the chalet stairs. He was scowling 
most dreadfully but had the wit to disappear swiftly as Mary and Harlow turned 
to mount the stairs : Rory’s last meeting with Harlow was still a very painful 

Twenty minutes later, showered, shaved, but still looking very tired, Harlow 
was in Dunnet’s room. The account of the night’s activities he’d given to Dunnet 
had been brief, succinct, but had missed out nothing of importance. 

Dunnet said: ‘And now?’ 

‘Straight back into Marseilles in the Ferrari. I’ll check on Giancarlo and the 
films, then go and extend my sympathies to Luigi the Light-fingered.’ 

Will he sing?’ 

Take a linnet. If he talks, the police will forget that they ever saw his gun and 
knife which will save our friend from five years’ mail-bag sewing or breaking 
boulders in a quarry or whatever. Luigi does not strike me as the noblest Roman 
of them all. ’ 

‘How do you get back here?’ 

‘By Ferrari.’ 

‘But I thought that James said that-’ 

‘That I was to leave it in Marseilles? I’m going to leave it in that disused 
farmyard down the road. I want the Ferrari tonight. I want to get into the Villa 
Hermitage tonight. I want a gun.’ 

For almost fifteen interminable seconds Dunnet sat quite still, not looking at 
Harlow, then he brought up his typewriter from beneath the bed, upended it and 
undipped the, base plate. This was lined with felt and was equipped with six 
pairs of spring clips. In the clips were held two automatic pistols, two silencers 
and two spare ammunition magazines. Harlow removed the smaller pistol, a 
silencer and a spare magazine. He pressed the magazine release switch, 
examined the magazine already in the gun and pressed it home again. He put all 
three items in the inner pocket of his leather jacket and zipped it up. He left the 
room without another word. 

Seconds later he was with MacAlpine. MacAlpine’s complexion was quite 
grey and he was unquestionably a very sick man with an illness insusceptible to 
physical diagnosis. He said: ‘Leaving now? You must be exhausted.’ 

Harlow said: ‘It’ll probably hit me tomorrow morning.’ 

MacAlpine glanced through the window. The rain was sheeting down. He 
turned back to Harlow and said : ‘Don’t envy you your trip to Marseilles. But the 
forecast says it’ll clear this evening. We’ll unload the transporter then.’ 

‘I think you’re trying to say something, sir.’ 

‘Well, yes.’ MacAlpine hesitated. ‘I believe you have been kissing my 

That’s a bare-faced lie. She was kissing me. Incidentally, one of -these days 
I’m going to clobber that boy of yours.’ 

‘You have my best wishes,’ MacAlpine said wearily. ‘Do you have designs 
upon my daughter, Johnny?’ 

‘I don’t know about that. But she sure as hell has designs on me.’ 

‘Harlow left and literally bumped into Rory in the corridor outside. They eyed 
each other, speculation in Harlow’s eyes, trepidation in Rory’s. 

Harlow said : ‘Aha! Eavesdropping again. Almost as good as spying, isn’t it, 


‘What? Me? Eavesdrop? Never!’ 

Harlow put a kindly arm around his shoulder. 

‘Rory, my lad, I have news. I not only have your father’s permission for but 
approval of my intention to clobber you one of these days. At my convenience, 
of course.’ 

Harlow gave Rory a friendly pat on the shoulder: there was considerable 
menace in the friendliness. Harlow, smiling, descended the stairs to find Mary 

She said : ‘Speak to you, Johnny?’ 

‘Sure. But on the porch. That black-haired young monster has probably got 
the whole place wired for sound.’ 

They went out on the porch, closing the door behind them. The chill rain was 
falling so heavily that it was impossible to see more than half-way across the 
abandoned airfield. 

Mary said : ‘Put your arm around me, Johnny.’ 

‘I obediently put my arm round you. In fact, as a bonus, I’ll put them both 
around you.’ 

‘Please don’t talk like that, Johnny. I’m scared. I’m scared all the time now, 
scared for you. There’s something terribly wrong, isn’t there, Johnny?’ 

‘What should be wrong?’ 

‘Oh, you are exasperating!’ She changed the subject — or appeared to. ‘Going 
to Marseilles?’ 


Take me with you.’ 


‘That’s not very gallant.’ 


‘What are you, Johnny? What are you doing?’ 

She had been pressing closely against him but now she drew back, slowly, 
wonderingly. She put her hand inside his leather jacket, pulled the pocket zip and 
took out the automatic : she gazed down, hypnotized, at the blue metallic sheen 
of the gun. 

‘Nothing that’s wrong, sweet Mary.’ 

She put her hand in his pocket again, took out the silencer and stared at it with 
eyes sick with worry and fear. She whispered : This is a silencer, isn’t it? This 
way you can kill people without making a noise.’ 

‘I said ‘Nothing that’s wrong, sweet Mary.” 

‘I know. I know you never would. But — I must tell Daddy.’ 

‘If you wish to destroy your father, then do so.’ It was brutal, Harlow realized, 
but he knew of no other way. ‘Go ahead. Tell him.’ 

‘Destroy my —what do you mean?’ 

There’s something I want to do. If your father knew, he’d stop me. He’s lost 
his nerve. Everybody’s opinion to the contrary, I haven’t lost mine.’ 

‘What do you mean —destroy him?’ 

‘I don’t think he’d long survive the death of your mother.’ 

‘My mother?’ She stared at him for long seconds. ‘But my mother—’ 

‘Your mother’s alive. I know she is. I think I can find out where she is. If I do, 
I’ll go and get her tonight.’ 

‘You’re sure?’ The girl was weeping silently. ‘You’re sure?’ 

‘I’m sure, my sweet Mary.’ Harlow wished he felt as confident as he sounded. 

There are police, Johnny.’ 

‘No. I could tell them where to get the information but they wouldn’t get it. 
They have to operate within the law.’ 

Instinctively, she dropped her brown tear-filled eyes from his and gazed at the 
gun and silencer in her hand. After a few moments she lifted her eyes again. 
Harlow nodded slightly, just once, took them gently from her, returned them to 
his pocket and closed the zip. She looked at him for a long moment, then took 
his leather lapels in her hands. 

‘Come back to me, Johnny.’ 

‘I’ll always come back to you, Mary.’ 

She tried to smile through her tears. It was not a very successful effort. She 
said : ‘Another slip of the tongue?’ 

That was not a slip of the tongue.’ Harlow turned his leather collar high, 
descended the steps and walked quickly through the driving rain. He did not look 

Less than one hour later Harlow and Giancarlo were occupying -the two arm¬ 
chairs in Giancarlo’s scientific laboratory. Harlow was leafing through a thick 
pile of glossy photographs. Harlow said : ‘I’m a very competent cameraman, 
although I do say so myself.’ 

Giancarlo nodded. ‘Indeed, And very full of human interest, those subjects of 
yours. We are, alas, temporarily baffled by the Tracchia and Neubauer 
documents, but then that makes them even more interesting, don’t you think? 

Not that MacAlpine and Jacobson are lacking in interest. Far from it. Do you 

know that MacAlpine has paid out just over £140,000 in the past six months?’ 

‘I guessed it was a lot - but that much! Even for a millionaire that must bite. 
What are the chances of identifying the lucky recipient?’ 

‘At present, zero. It’s a Zurich numbered account. But if they are presented 
with proved criminal acts, especially murder, the Swiss banks will open up.’ 

Harlow said: They’ll get their evidence.’ 

Giancarlo looked at Harlow in lengthy speculation, then nodded. ‘I should not 
be surprised. Now, as for our friend Jacobson, he must be the wealthiest 
mechanic in Europe. His addresses, incidentally, are those of the leading book¬ 
makers of Europe.’ 

‘Gambling on the gee-gees?’ 

Giancarlo gave him a pitying look. ‘No great feat to find what it was, the 
dates made it easy. Each lodgement was made two or three days after a Grand 
Prix race.’ 

‘Well, well. An enterprising lad is our Jacobson. Opens up a whole new vista 
of fascinating possibilities, doesn’t it?’ 

‘Doesn’t it, now? You can take those photographs. I have duplicates.’ 

Thank you very much indeed.’ Harlow handed back the photographs, think I 
want to be caught with that bloody lot on me?’ 

Harlow said his thanks and goodbye and drove straight to the police station. 
On duty was the inspector who had been there in the early hours of the morning. 
His former geniality had quite deserted him: he now had about him a definitely 
lugubrious air. 

Harlow said: ‘Has Luigi the Light-fingered been singing sweet songs?’ 

The inspector shook his head sadly. ‘Alas, our little canary has lost his voice.’ 


‘His medicine did not agree with him. I fear, Mr. Harlow, that you dealt with 
him in so heroic a fashion that he required pain-killing tablets every hour. I had 
four men guarding him — two outside the room, two inside. Ten minutes before 
noon this ravishingly beautiful young blonde nurse — that’s how those cretins 
describe her-’ 


‘My sergeant and his three men. She left two tablets and a glass of water and 
asked the sergeant to see that he took his medicine exactly at noon. Sergeant 
Fleury is nothing if not gallant so precisely at noon he gave Luigi his medicine.’ 

‘What was the medicine?’ 


It was late afternoon when Harlow drove the red Ferrari into the courtyard of 
the deserted farm just south of the Vignolles airfield. The door of the empty barn 
was open. Harlow took the car inside, stopped the engine and got out, trying to 
adjust his eyes to the gloom of the windowless barn. He was still trying to do 
this when a stocking-masked figure seemed to materialize out of this self-same 
gloom. Despite the almost legendary speed of his reactions Harlow had no time 
to get at his gun, for the figure was less -than six feet away and already swinging 
what looked like a pick-axe handle. Harlow catapulted himself forward, getting 
in below the vicious swing of the club, his shoulder crashing into his assailant 
just below the breast-bone. The man, completely winded, gasped in agony, 
staggered backwards and fell heavily with Harlow on top of him, one hand on 
the prostrate man’s throat while with the other he reached for his gun. 

He did not even manage to get the gun clear of his pocket. He heard the 
faintest of sounds behind him and twisted round just in time to see another 
masked figure and a swinging club and catch the full impact of a vicious blow 
on the right forehead and temple. He collapsed without a sound. The man whom 
Harlow had winded climbed unsteadily to his feet and although still bent almost 
double in pain swung his leg and kicked Harlow full in his unconscious and 
unprotected face. It was perhaps fortunate for Harlow that his attacker was still 
in so weakened a state otherwise the kick might well have been lethal. Clearly, 
his attacker was dissatisfied with his initial effort for he drew his foot back again 
but his companion dragged him away before he could put his potentially lethal 
intentions into effect. The winded man, still bent over, staggered to and sat on a 
convenient bench while the other man proceeded to search the unconscious 
Harlow in a very thorough fashion indeed. 

It was noticeably darker inside the barn when Harlow slowly began to come 
to. He stirred, moaned, then shakily raised shoulders and body off -the ground 
until he was at arm’s length from it. He remained in this position for some time 
then, with what was clearly a Herculean effort, managed to stagger to his feet 
where he remained uncontrollably swaying like a drunken man. His face felt as 
if it had been struck by a passing Coronado. After a minute or two, more by 
instinct than anything else, he lurched out of the garage, crossed the courtyard, 
falling down twice in the process, and made his erratic way towards the airfield 

The rain had now stopped falling and the sky was beginning to clear. Dunnet 
had just emerged from the canteen and was heading towards the chalet when he 
caught sight of -this staggering figure, less than fifty yards away, weaving its 

seemingly alcoholic way across the airfield tarmac. For a moment Dunnet stood 
like a man turned to stone, then broke into a dead run. He reached Harlow in 
seconds, put a supporting arm around his shoulders as he stared into his face, a 
face now barely recognizable. The forehead was wickedly gashed and hideously 
bruised and the blood that had seeped — and was still seeping —had completely 
masked the right side of his face and blinded his right eye. The left-hand side of 
the face was in little better condition. The left cheek was one huge bruise with a 
transverse cut. He bled from nose and mouth, his lip was split and at least two 
teeth were missing. 

‘Christ Almighty!’ Dunnet said. ‘Dear Christ Almighty!’ 

Dunnet half-guided, half-carried the staggering, semiconscious Harlow across 
the tarmac, up the steps, across the porch and into the hall of -the chalet. Dunnet 
cursed under his breath as Mary chose just that moment to emerge from the 
living-room. She stood stock-still for a moment, brown eyes huge in a white 
appalled face, and when she spoke her voice was a barely audible whisper. 

‘Johnny!’ she said. ‘Oh, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. What have they done to 

She reached forward and gently touched the blood-masked face, beginning to 
tremble uncontrollably as the tears rolled down her face. 

‘No time for tears, Mary, my dear.’ Dunnet’s voice was deliberately brisk. 
‘Warm water, sponge, towel. After that, bring the first-aid box. On no account 
are you to tell your father. We’ll be in the lounge.’ 

Five minutes later, in the lounge, a basin of bloodstained water and a 
bloodstained towel lay at Harlow’s feet. His face was clear of blood now and the 
end result was, if anything, worse looking than ever inasmuch as the gashes and 
bruises stood out in clear relief. Dunnet, ruthlessly applying iodine and 
antiseptics, was taping up the gashes and from the frequent wincing expressions 
on the face of his patient, it was clear that Harlow was suffering considerably. 

He put finger and thumb inside his mouth, wrenched, winced again and came out 
with a tooth which he regarded with disfavour before dropping into the basin. 
When he spoke, despite the thickness of his speech, it was clear that however 
damaged he might have been physically, mentally he was back on balance. 

‘You and me, Alexis. I think we should have our photographs taken. For the 
family albums. How do we compare for looks?’ 

Dunnet examined him judicially. ‘About even-stephen, I should say.’ 

True, true. Mind you, I think nature gave me an unfair start over you.’ 

‘Stop it, stop it, will you.’ Mary was openly crying. ‘He’s hurt, he’s terribly 

hurt. I’m going to get a doctor.’ 

‘No question.’ The bantering note had left Harlow’s voice and there was iron 
in it now. ‘No doctors. No stitches. Later. Not tonight.’ 

Mary, her eyes brimming with tears, gazed fixedly at the glass of brandy 
Harlow held in his hand. The hand was steady as that of a stone statue. She said, 
not with bitterness, only a dawning of understanding: ‘You fooled us all. The 
nerve-shattered world champion with the shaking hands. You fooled us all the 
time. Didn’t you, Johnny?’ 

‘Yes. Please leave the room, Mary.’ 

‘I swear I’ll never talk. Not even to Daddy.’ 

‘Leave the room.’ 

‘Leave her be,’ Dunnet said. ‘If you talk, Mary, you know he’d never look at 
you again. My God, it never rains but it pours. You’re our second alarm this 
afternoon. Tweedledum and Tweedledee are missing.’ 

Dunnet looked at Harlow for his reaction but there was none. 

Harlow said: They were working on the transporter at the time.’ It was a 
statement, not a question. 

‘How the hell do you know?’ 

‘In the south hangar. With Jacobson.’ 

Dunnet nodded slowly. 

They saw too much,’ Harlow said, too much. It must have been by accident 
because God knows they weren’t overburdened by intelligence. But they saw too 
much. What’s Jacobson’s story?’ 

The twins went for a tea-break. When they didn’t come back after forty 
minutes, he went looking for them. They’d just vanished.’ 

‘Did they, in fact, go to the canteen?’ Dunnet shook his head. Then if they’re 
ever found it will be in the bottom of a ravine or a canal. Remember Jacques and 
Henry in the Coronado garage?’ Dunnet nodded. ‘Jacob-son said they’d become 
homesick and gone home. They’ve gone home all right —in the same way that 
Tweedledum and Tweedledee have gone home. He’s got two new mechanics 
down there but only one turned up for work this morning. The other didn’t. I’ve 
no proof, but I’ll get it. The missing lad didn’t turn up because I put him in 
hospital in the middle hours of the night.’ 

Dunnet showed no reaction. Mary stared at Harlow with unbelieving horror in 
her eyes. 

Harlow went on: ‘Sorry, Mary. Jacobson is a killer, murderer if you like. He’ll 
stop at nothing to protect his own interests. I know he was responsible for the 

death of my young brother in the first Grand Prix of this season. That was what 
first made Alexis persuade me to work for him.’ 

Mary said in total disbelief: 'You work for Alexis? A journalist?’ 

Harlow went on as if he had not heard her. 'He tried to kill me in the French 
Grand Prix. I have photographic proof. He was responsible for Jethou’s death. 

He tried to get me last night but using a fake police trap to stop the transporter. 
He was responsible for the murder of a man in Marseilles today.’ 

Dunnet said calmly: ‘Who?’ 

'Luigi the Light-fingered. He was fed a pain-reliever in hospital today. It 
certainly removed him from all pain — permanently. Cyanide. Jacobson was the 
only person who knew about Luigi so he had him eliminated before he could 
sing to the police. My fault — I’d told Jacobson. My fault. But I’d no option at 
the time.’ 

‘I can’t believe it.’ Mary was totally bewildered. ‘I can’t believe it. This is a 

‘Believe what you like. Just stay a mile away from Jacobson. He’ll read your 
face like a book and will begin to become very interested in you. I should hate 
for Jacobson to become very interested in you, I’d rather you didn’t end up in a 
gravel pit. And always remember—you’re crippled for life and Jacobson did it.’ 

While he had been talking, Harlow had been carrying out a thorough 
examination of his pockets. 

‘Cleaned out,’ he said matter-of-factly. ‘Completely. Wallet, passport, driving 
licence, money, car keys —but I have spares. All my skeleton keys.’ He 
pondered briefly. That means I’ll require a rope, hook and tarpaulin from the 
transporter. And then — ‘ 

Mary interrupted, fear in her eyes. ‘You’re not —you can’t go out again 
tonight! You should be in hospital.’ 

Harlow glanced at her briefly, expressionlessly, then went on : ‘And then, of 
course, they took my gun. I shall require another, Alexis. And some money.’ 

Harlow pushed himself to his feet, walked quickly and quietly to the door and 
jerked it open. Rory, who had clearly been listening with his ear pressed hard 
against the door, more or less fell into the room. Harlow seized him by the hair 
and Rory yelped in agony as Harlow straightened him up. 

Harlow said: ‘Look at my face, Rory.’ 

Rory looked, winced and the colour drained from his own. 

Harlow said : ‘You’re responsible for that, Rory.’ 

Suddenly, without warning, he struck Rory flatly handed across the left cheek. 

It was a heavy blow and would normally have sent Rory reeling but he couldn’t 
in this case because Harlow’s left hand was firmly entwined in his hair. Harlow 
struck him again, backhanded and with equal force, across the right cheek, then 
proceeded to repeat the process with metronomic regularity. 

Mary screamed: ‘Johnny! Johnny! Have you gone mad?’ She made to throw 
herself at Harlow but Dunnet moved swiftly to pin her arms from behind. 

Dunnet appeared remarkably unperturbed by the turn events had taken. 

‘I’m going to keep this up, Rory,’ Harlow said, ‘until you feel the way I look.’ 

Harlow kept it up. Rory made no attempt to resist or retaliate. His head was 
beginning to roll from side to side, quite helplessly, as Harlow continued to 
strike him repeatedly. Then, considering that the softening-up process had 
probably gone far enough, Harlow stopped. 

Harlow said: ‘I want information. I want the truth. I want it now. You 
eavesdropped on Mr. Dunnet and myself this afternoon, did you not?’ 

Rory’s voice was a trembling pain-wracked whisper. ‘No! No! I swear I 
didn’t. I swear—’ 

He broke off with a screech of pain as Harlow resumed the treatment. After a 
few seconds Harlow stopped again. A sobbing Mary, still securely held by 
Dunnet, was looking at him in stupefied horror. 

Harlow said: ‘I was beaten up by some people who knew I was going to 
Marseilles to see about some very important pictures. They wanted those 
pictures very very badly. They also knew that I would be parking the Ferrari in a 
barn in a disused farmhouse a little way down the road. Mr. Dunnet was the only 
other person who knew about the pictures and the farmyard. You dunk perhaps 
he told?’ 

‘Maybe.’ Like ‘his sister’s, Rory’s cheeks were now liberally streaked with 
tears. ‘I don’t know. Yes, yes, he must have done.’ 

Harlow spoke slowly and deliberately, interspersing every other few words 
with a resounding slap. 

‘Mr. Dunnet is not a journalist. Mr. Dunnet has never been an accountant. Mr. 
Dunnet is a senior officer of the Special Branch of New Scotland Yard and a 
member of Interpol and he has accumulated enough evidence against you, for 
aiding and abetting criminals, to ensure that you’ll spend the next few years in a 
remand home and Borstal.’ He removed his left hand from Rory’s hair. ‘Whom 
did you tell, Rory?’ 


Harlow pushed Rory into an arm-chair where he sat hunched, his hands 

covering his aching scarlet face. 

Harlow looked at Dunnet. ‘Where’s Tracchia?’ 

‘Gone to Marseilles. He said. With Neubauer.’ 

‘He was out here, too? He would be. And Jacobson?’ 

‘Out in his car. Looking for the twins. He said.’ 

‘He’s probably taken a spade with him. I’ll get the spare keys and fetch the 
Ferrari. Meet you at the transporter in fifteen minutes. With the gun. And 

Harlow turned and walked away. Rory, rising rather unsteadily to his feet, 
followed. Dunnet put an arm round Mary’s shoulders, pulled out a breast 
handkerchief and proceeded to clean her tear-ravaged face. Mary looked at him 
in wonderment. 

‘Are you what Johnny said you were? Special Branch? Interpol?’ 

‘Well, yes, I’m a police officer of sorts.’ 

Then stop him, Mr. Dunnet. I beg of you. Stop him.’ 

‘Don’t you know your Johnny yet?’ 

Mary nodded miserably, waited until Dunnet had effected his running repairs, 
then said: ‘He’s after Tracchia, isn’t he?’ 

‘He’s after Tracchia. He’s after a lot of people. But the person he’s really after 
is Jacobson. If Johnny says that Jacobson is directly responsible for the deaths of 
seven people, then he’s directly responsible for the deaths of seven people. Apart 
from that he has two personal scores to settle with Jacobson.’ 

‘His young brother?’ Dunnet nodded. ‘And the other?’ 

‘Look at your left foot, Mary.’ 


At the roundabout south of Vignolles, a black Citroen braked to give 
precedence to Harlow’s red Ferrari. As the Ferrari swept by, Jacobson, at the 
wheel of the Citroen, rubbed his chin thoughtfully, turned his car towards 
Vignolles and stopped by the first roadside telephone booth. 

In the Vignolles canteen MacAlpine and Dunnet were finishing a meal in the 
now almost deserted room. They were both looking towards the door, watching 
Mary leave. 

MacAlpine sighed. ‘My daughter is in low spirits tonight.’ 

‘Your daughter is in love.’ 

‘I fear so. And where the hell has that young devil Rory got to?’ 

‘Well, not to put too fine a point on it, Harlow caught that young devil 

‘Oh, no. Not again ?’ 

‘Again. The ensuing scene was quite painful really. I was there. I rather think 
that Rory was afraid that he might find Johnny here. Johnny, in fact, is in bed -I 
don’t think he’d any sleep last night.’ 

‘And that sounds a very attractive proposition to me. Bed, I mean. I feel 
unaccountably tired tonight. If you will excuse me, Alexis.’ 

He half rose to his feet, then sat down again as Jacobson entered and 
approached their table. He looked very tired indeed. 

MacAlpine said : ‘What luck?’ 

‘Zero. I’ve searched everywhere within five miles of here. Nothing. But I’ve 
just had a report from the police that two people answering closely to their 
descriptions have been seen in Le Beausset — and there can’t be many people 
around like the terrible twins. I’ll just have a bite and go there. Have to find a car 
first, though. Mine’s on the blink — hydraulics gone.’ 

MacAlpine handed Jacobson a set of car keys, take my Aston.’ 

‘Well, thank you, Mr. MacAlpine. Insurance papers?’ 

‘Everything in -the glove box. Very kind of you to go to such trouble, I must 

They’re my boys too, Mr. MacAlpine.’ 

Dunnet gazed expressionlessly into the middle distance. 

The Ferrari’s speedometer registered 180 kph. Harlow was clearly paying 
scant attention to the French no kph restriction, but from time to time, purely 
from instinct, for it seemed unlikely that there was any police car in France 
capable of overtaking him, he consulted his rear mirror. But there was at no time 

anything to be seen except the coils of rope, hook and first-aid box on the back 
seat and the hump of a dirty white tarpaulin which had been clearly flung 
carelessly on the floor. 

An incredible forty minutes after leaving Vignolles the Ferrari passed the 
Marseilles sign. A kilometre farther on the Ferrari pulled up as traffic lights 
changed to red. Harlow’s face was so battered and bruised and covered in plaster 
that it was impossible to tell what expression it wore. But the eyes were as calm 
and steady and watchful as ever, his posture as immobile as ever : no impatience, 
no drumming of fingers on the wheel. But even Harlow’s total relaxation could 
be momentarily upset. 

‘Mr. Harlow.’ The voice came from the rear of the car. 

Harlow swung round and stared at Rory, whose head had just emerged from 
its cocoon of canvas tarpaulin. When Harlow spoke it was with slow, deliberate, 
spaced words. 

‘What the hell are you doing there?’ 

Rory said defensively : ‘I thought you might be needing a bit of a hand, like.’ 

Harlow restrained himself with what was obviously an immense effort. 

‘I could say this is all I need, but I don’t think that would help much.’ From an 
inner pocket he fished out some of the money that Dunnet had given him. ‘Three 
hundred francs. Get a hotel and phone Vignolles for a car in the morning.’ 

‘No, thank you, Mr. Harlow. I made a terrible mistake about you. I’m just 
plain stupid, I guess. I won’t say sorry, for all the sorties in the world are not 
enough. The best way to say ‘sorry’ is to help. Please, Mr. Harlow.’ 

‘Look, laddie, I’ll be meeting people tonight, people who would kill you soon 
as look at you. And now I’m responsible for you to your father.’ 

The lights changed and the Ferrari moved on. What little could be seen of 
Harlow’s face looked slightly bemused. 

‘And that’s another tiling,’ Rory said. ‘What’s wrong with him? My father, I 

‘He’s being blackmailed.’ 

‘Dad? Blackmailed?’ Rory was totally incredulous. 

‘Nothing he’s ever done. I’ll tell you some time.’ 

‘Are you going to stop those people from blackmailing him?’ 

‘I hope so.’ 

‘And Jacobson. The man who crippled Mary. I must have been mad to think it 
was your fault. Are you going to get him, too?’ 


‘You didn’t say ‘I hope so’ this time. You said ‘Yes’.’ 

That’s right.’ 

Rory cleared his throat and said diffidently: ‘You going to marry Mary, Mr. 

The prison walls appear to be closing round me.’ 

‘Well, I love her too. Different like, but just as much. If you’re going after the 
bastard who crippled Mary I’m coming too.’ 

‘Watch your language,’ Harlow said absently. He drove some way in silence 
then sighed in resignation. ‘OK. But only if you promise to stay out of sight and 
keep safe.’ 

‘I’ll stay out of sight and keep safe.’ 

Harlow made to bite his upper lip and winced as he bit the gash in that lip. He 
looked in the rear mirror. Rory, now sitting on the back seat, was smiling with 
considerable satisfaction. Harlow shook his head in what might have been 
disbelief or despair or both. 

Ten minutes later Harlow parked the car in an alleyway about three hundred 
yards away from the rue Georges Sand, packed all the equipment into a canvas 
bag, slung it over his shoulder and set off, accompanied by a Rory whose 
expression of complacency had now changed to one of considerable 
apprehension. Other factors apart, there was a sound enough reason for Rory’s 
nervousness. It was a bad night for the purposes Harlow had in mind. A full 
moon hung high in a cloudless starlit Riviera sky. The visibility was at least as 
good as it would have been on an overcast winter’s afternoon. The only 
difference was that moon-shadows are much darker. 

Harlow and Rory were now pressed close into the shadow of one of the ten- 
foot high walls that surrounded the Villa Hermitage. Harlow examined the 
contents of the bag. 

‘Now then. Rope, hook, tarpaulin, twine, insulated wire-cutters, chisels, first- 
aid box. Yes, the lot.’ 

‘What is that lot for, Mr. Harlow?’ 

‘First three for getting over that wall. Twine for tying things up or together, 
like thumbs. Wire-cutters for electric alarms —if I can find the wires. Chisels for 
opening things. First-aid box —well, you never know. Rory, will you kindly stop 
your teeth from chattering? Our friends inside could hear you forty feet away.’ 

‘I can’t help it, Mr. Harlow.’ 

‘Now, remember, you’re to stay here. The last people we want here are the 
police but if I’m not back in thirty minutes go to the phone box on the corner and 

tell them to come here at the double.’ 

Harlow secured the hook to the end of the rope. For once, the bright 
moonlight was of help. With his first upward cast the hook sailed over the 
branch of a tree within the grounds. He pulled cautiously until the hook engaged 
firmly round the branch, slung the white tarpaulin over his shoulder, climbed the 
few feet that were necessary, draped the tarpaulin over the broken glass 
embedded in the concrete, pulled himself farther up, sat gingerly astride and 
looked at the tree that had provided this convenient branch: the lower branches 
extended to within four feet of the ground. 

Harlow glanced down at Rory, the bag.’ 

The bag came sailing upwards. Harlow caught it and dropped it on the ground 
inside. He took the branch in his hands, swung inwards and was on the ground in 
five seconds. 

He passed through a small thicket of trees. Lights shone from the curtained 
windows of a ground floor room. The massive oaken door was shut and almost 
certainly bolted. In any event Harlow considered that a frontal entry was as neat 
a way as any of committing suicide. He approached the side of the house, 
keeping to shadows wherever possible. The windows on the ground floor offered 
no help - all were heavily barred. The back door, predictably, was locked: the 
ironic thought occurred to Harlow that the only skeleton keys which could have 
probably opened that door were inside that house. 

He moved round to the other side of the house. He didn’t even bother looking 
at the barred lower windows. He looked upwards and his attention was at once 
caught and held by a window that was slightly ajar. Not much, perhaps three 
inches, but still ajar. Harlow looked around the grounds. About twenty yards 
away were a cluster of garden and potting sheds and a greenhouse. He headed 
resolutely in their direction. 

Rory, meanwhile, was pacing up and down in the lane outside, continually 
glancing at the rope in what appeared to be an agony of indecision. Suddenly, he 
seized the rope and began to climb. 

By the time he had dropped to the ground on the other side, Harlow had a 
ladder against the lower sill of the window and had reached the level of the 
window itself. He pulled out his torch and carefully examined both sides of the 
window. Both sides had what were clearly electrical wires stapled to the 
framework of the window. Harlow reached inside his bag, produced the wire- 
cutters, snipped both wires, lifted the sash high and passed inside. 

Within two minutes he had established that there was no one on the upper 

floor. Canvas bag and unlit torch in his left hand, the silenced pistol in the other, 
he stealthily descended the stairs towards the hallway. Light streamed from a 
door that was slightly ajar and the sound of voices from inside, one of them a 
woman’s, carried very clearly. This room he temporarily ignored. He prowled 
round the ground floor ensuring that all the rooms were empty. In the kitchen, 
his torch located a set of steps leading down to the basement. Harlow descended 
those and played his torch round a concrete-floored, concrete-walled cellar. Four 
doors led off this cellar. Three of those looked perfectly normal: the fourth had 
two massive bolts and a heavy key such as one might expect to find in a 
medieval dungeon. Harlow slid the bolts, turned the key, passed inside, located 
and pressed a light switch. 

Whatever it was, it was certainly no dungeon. It was a very modern and 
immaculately equipped laboratory although what precisely it was equipped to do 
was not immediately apparent. Harlow crossed to a row of aluminium 
containers, lifted the lid of one, sniffed the white powdery contents, wrinkled his 
nose in disgust and replaced the lid. As he left he passed by a wall telephone, 
obviously, from the dial, an external exchange one. He hesitated, shrugged and 
walked out, leaving the door open and the light on. 

Rory, just at the precise moment when Harlow was mounting the steps from 
the cellar, was hidden in the deep shadow on the edge of the thicket of trees. 
From where he stood he could see both the front and the side of the house. His 
face held a considerable degree of apprehension, an apprehension that suddenly 
changed to something very close to fear. 

A squat, powerfully built man, clad in dark trousers and a dark roll-neck 
pullover, had suddenly appeared from behind the back of the house. For a 
moment the man, the patrolling guard that Harlow hadn’t bargained for, stood 
stock-still, staring at the ladder propped against the wall. Then he started running 
towards the front door of the house. As if by magic two items had appeared in 
his hands — a large key and a very much larger knife. 

Harlow stood in the hallway outside the occupied room, thoughtfully 
regarding the bar of light streaming from the partially opened door and listening 
to the sound of voices. He tightened the silencer on his gun, took two quick steps 
forward then violently smashed the door open with the sole of his right foot: the 
door all but parted company with its hinges. 

There were five people inside the room. Three of them were curiously alike 
and might well have been brothers — heavy, well-suited, obviously prosperous 
men, black-haired and very swarthy. The fourth was a beautiful blonde girl. The 

fifth was Willi Neubauer. They stared as if mesmerized at Harlow who, with his 
bruised and battered face and silenced pistol, must have presented a less than 
friendly appearance. 

Harlow said: the hands high, please.’ 

All five lifted their hands. 

‘Higher. Higher.’ 

The five occupants of the room stretched their arms very high indeed. 

‘What the devil does this mean, Harlow?’ Neubauer’s tone was intended to be 
harsh and demanding but it burred with the sharp edge of strain. ‘I come calling 
on friends -’ 

Harlow interrupted in an iron voice. The judge will have more patience with 
you than I have. Shut up!’ 

Took out!’ The almost panic-stricken scream was barely recognizable as 
Rory’s voice. 

Harlow had the cat-like reflexes that befitted the outstanding Grand Prix 
driver of his time. He turned and fired in one movement. The dark man, who had 
been just about to start a vicious down-stroke, screamed in agony and stared in 
disbelief at his shattered hand. Harlow ignored him and had whirled back to face 
the others even before the dark man’s knife had struck the floor. One of the 
swarthy men had dropped his right hand and was reaching inside his jacket. 

Harlow said encouragingly : ‘Go on.’ 

The swarthy man lifted his right hand very quickly indeed. Harlow stepped 
prudently to one side and gestured briefly with his gun towards the wounded 

‘Join your friends.’ Moaning in pain, his left hand clutching his bleeding 
right, the dark man did so. Just then Rory entered the room. 

Harlow said: Thank you, Rory. All sins forgiven. Get the first-aid box from 
that bag. I told you we might need it.’ He surveyed the company coldly. ‘And I 
do hope this is the last time we need it.’ He pointed his gun at the blonde girl. 
‘Come here, you.’ 

She rose from her chair and came slowly forward. Harlow smiled at her, 
chillingly, but she was either too shocked or stupid to realize what lay behind 
that smile. 

‘I believe you have some pretensions towards being a nurse’ Harlow said, 
‘even though the late and un-lamented Luigi might not agree with that. There’s 
the first-aid box. Fix your friend’s hand.’ 

She spat at him. ‘Fix it yourself.’ 

Harlow gave no warning. There was a blur of movement and the silencer of 
the pistol smashed against the blonde’s face. She screamed, staggered and fell to 
a sitting position, blood welling from gashes on both cheek and mouth. 

‘Jesus!’ Rory was appalled. ‘Mr. Harlow!’ 

‘If it’s any consolation, Rory, this charmer is wanted for premeditated 
murder.’ He looked at the blonde and what little could be seen of his face was 
totally devoid of pity. ‘Get to your feet and fix your friend’s hand. Then, if you 
wish, your own face. Not that I care. The rest of you, face down on the floor, 
hands behind your back. Rory, see if they have guns. The first man that as much 
as twitches will be shot through the back of the head.’ 

Rory searched them. When he had finished, he looked down almost in awe at 
the four guns he had placed on the table. 

They all had guns, ‘he said. 

‘What did you expect them to be carrying? Powder puffs? Now, Rory, the 
twine. You know what to do. As many knots as you like, the twine as tight as 
possible and the hell with their circulation.’ Rory set about his task with 
enthusiasm and in very short order had the hands of all six securely bound 
behind their backs : the dark man now had his hand roughly bandaged. 

Harlow said to Neubauer: ‘Where’s the gate key?’ 

Neubauer glared venomously and kept silent. Harlow pocketed his gun, 
picked up the knife his would-be assailant had dropped and pressed the tip 
against Neubauer’s throat, just breaking the skin. 

‘I’m going to count three then I’m going to push this knife clear through to 
the back of your neck. One. Two.’ 

‘Hall table.’ Neubauer’s face was ashen. 

‘On your feet, all of you. Down to the cellar.’ 

They trooped down to the cellar, all with highly apprehensive expressions on 
their faces. So apprehensive was the last of the six, one of the three swarthy men, 
that he made a sudden vicious lunge at Harlow, probably with the intention of 
knocking him down the steps and then stamping on him, which was a very 
foolish thing to do, for he had already had eye-witness proof of the quite 
remarkable speed of Harlow’s reactions. Harlow stepped nimbly to one side, 
struck him above the ear with the barrel of his pistol and watched him topple 
then fall halfway down the steps. Harlow caught one of his ankles and dragged 
him down the lower half of the stairs, the unconscious man’s head bumping from 
concrete step to concrete step. 

One of the other swarthy men shouted: ‘God’s sake, Harlow, are you mad? 

You’ll kill him!’ 

Harlow dragged the unconscious man down the last step until his head hit the 
concrete floor and looked indifferently at the man who had made the protest. 

'So? I’m probably going to have to kill you all anyway.’ 

He ushered them into the cellar laboratory and, with Rory’s assistance, 
dragged the unconscious man in after them. 

Harlow said: 'Lie down on the floor. Rory, tie their ankles together. Very 
tightly, please.’ Rory did so, displaying not only enthusiasm for but now positive 
enjoyment in his work. When he had finished, Harlow said: 'Go through their 
pockets. See what identification papers they are carrying. Not Neubauer. We all 
know who our dear Willi is.’ 

Rory returned to Harlow with quite a bundle of identification documents in 
his hand. He looked uncertainly at the woman on the floor. ‘What about the lady, 
Mr. Harlow?’ 

‘Never confuse that murderous bitch with a lady.’ Harlow looked at her. 
‘Where’s your handbag?’ 

‘I haven’t got a handbag.’ 

Harlow sighed, crossed to where she lay and knelt beside her. ‘When I’m 
finished with the other side of your face no man will ever look at you again. Not 
that you’ll be seeing any men for a long time to come—no court is going to 
overlook the testimony of four policemen who can identify you and the 
fingerprints on that glass.’ He looked at her consideringly then lifted his gun. 
‘And I don’t suppose the wardresses will care what you look like. Where’s that 

‘In my bedroom.’ The tremble in her voice accurately reflected the fear in her 

‘Where in your bedroom?’ 

‘The wardrobe.’ 

Harlow looked at Rory. ‘Rory, if you would be so kind.’ 

Rory said uncertainly: ‘How will I know which bedroom?’ 

Harlow said patiently: ‘When you come to a bedroom where the dressing- 
table looks like the toilet counter in a pharmacy, then you’ll have found the right 
bedroom. And bring down the four guns from the living-room.’ 

Rory left. Harlow got to his feet, crossed to the desk where he’d placed the 
identification documents and began to study those with interest. After about a 
minute he looked up. 

‘Well, well, well. Marzio, Marzio and Marzio. Sounds like a firm of well- 

established solicitors. And all from Corsica. I seem to have heard of the Marzio 
brothers before. I’m quite certain the police have and will be delighted to have 
those documents.’ He laid down the papers, pulled six inches of a roll of stand- 
mounted Scotch tape and affixed it lightly to the edge of the desk. He said: 
‘You’ll never guess what that’s for.’ 

Rory returned, bearing with him a handbag so large as to be more a valise 
than a handbag, along with four guns. Harlow opened the bag, examined the 
contents, which included a passport, then unzipped only a side compartment and 
pulled out a gun. 

‘My, my. So Anne-Marie Puccelli carries a fire-arm around with her. No 
doubt to fend off those would-be nasty attackers bent on robbing her of those 
cyanide tablets such as she fed to the late Luigi.’ Harlow replaced the gun, then 
dropped into the bag the other documents and the four guns Rory had brought. 

He extracted the. first-aid box from the bag, took out a very small bottle and 
poured white tablets into his hand. 

‘How convenient. Exactly six tablets. One for each. I want to know where 
Mrs. MacAlpine is being held and I’m going to know in less than two minutes. 
Florence Nightingale there will know what those are.’ 

Florence Nightingale had no comment to make. Her face was paper-white and 
drawn, she appeared to have put on ten years in ten minutes. 

Rory said: ‘What are those things?’ 

‘Sugar-coated cyanide. Quite pleasant to take really. Take about three minutes 
to melt.’ 

‘Oh, no.’ You can’t do that.’ Shock had drained Rory’s face of all its colour. 
‘You just can’t. That-that’s murder. ’ 

‘You want to see your mother again, don’t you? Besides, it’s not murder, it’s 
extermination. We’re dealing with animals, not human beings. Look around you. 
What do you think the end product of this charming old cottage industry is?’ 
Rory shook his head. He seemed to be completely numbed. ‘Heroin. Think of 
the hundreds, more likely thousands, of people they’ve killed. I insulted animals 
by calling them animals. They’re the lowest form of vermin on earth. It would be 
a pleasure to. wipe out all six of them.’ 

Among the six bound, prostrate prisoners there was a considerable amount of 
sweating and lip-licking in evidence. All six were plainly terrified. There was a 
mthless implacibility in Harlow that made it all too horrifyingly plain that he 
was in deadly earnest. 

Harlow knelt on Neubauer’s chest, tablet in one hand, gun, in the other. He 

struck Neubauer, stiff-fingered, in the solar plexus. Neubauer gasped and Harlow 
stuck the silencer of his pistol into his opened mouth so preventing him from 
clenching his teeth. With finger and thumb he held the tablet alongside the 

Harlow said: 'Where is Mrs. MacAlpine?’ He withdrew the gun. Neubauer 
was babbling, almost mad with fear. 

‘Bandol! Bandol! Bandol! In a boat.’ 

‘What type? Where?’ 

‘In the bay. Motor yacht. Forty feet or so. Blue with white top. The Chevalier 
it’s called.’ 

Harlow said to Rory: ‘Bring me that strip of Scotch tape from the side of the 
table.’ He repeated his two-fingered assault on Neubauer’s solar plexus. Once 
again the gun was in the mouth. Harlow dropped the tablet in. ‘I don’t believe 
you.’ He strapped the tape across Neubauer’s mouth. ‘Just to prevent you from 
spitting that cyanide tablet out.’ 

Harlow moved across to the man who had made the vain attempt to pull his 
gun. Tablet in hand, he sank to his knees. Totally panic-stricken, the man started 
screaming at Harlow before the latter could speak. 

‘Are you mad? Are you mad? For God’s sake, it’s true! The Chevalier. 

Bandol. Blue and white. She’s anchored two hundred metres off-shore.’ 

Harlow stared at the man for a long moment, nodded, rose, crossed to the wall 
phone, lifted the receiver and dialed 17 — Police secours, which can be 
variously interpreted as police-help or police-emergency. He made contact 
almost instantly. 

Harlow said : ‘I’m speaking from the Villa Hermitage in the rue Georges 
Sand. Yes, that’s it. In a basement room you will find a fortune in heroin. In the 
same room you will find the equipment for the bulk manufacture of heroin. Also 
in the same room you will find six people responsible for the manufacture and 
distribution of this heroin. They will offer no resistance — they are securely 
bound. Three of them are the Marzio brothers. I have taken their identification 
papers along with those of a wanted murderess called Anne-Marie Puccelli. 
These will be given to you later tonight.’ There came from the earpiece the 
sound of a voice talking rapidly, urgently, but Harlow ignored it. He said : ‘I will 
not repeat myself. I know that every emergency call is tape-recorded, so there’s 
no point in trying t© detain me until you get here.’ He hung up, to find Rory 
gripping his arm. 

Rory said desperately : ‘You’ve got your information. The three minutes 

aren’t up. You could still get that tablet from Neubauer’s mouth.’ 

‘Ah, that.’ Harlow put four of the tablets back in the small bottle, held up the 
fifth, ‘five grains acetylsalicylic acid. Aspirin. That’s why I taped his mouth — I 
didn’t want him shouting to his pals that all he had been fed was an aspirin — 
there can’t be an adult human being in the western world who doesn’t know the 
taste of aspirin. Look at his face —he’s not terrified any more, he’s just hopping 
mad. Come to that, they all look hopping mad. Ah, well.’ He picked up the girl’s 
handbag and looked at her. ‘We’ll borrow this temporarily - fifteen, twenty 
years, whatever the judge cares to give you.’ 

They left, bolting and locking the door behind them, took the gate key from 
the hall table, ran through the open front door, down the driveway then unlocked 
and opened the gates. Harlow pulled Rory into the shadow of a cluster of pine 

Rory said: ‘How long do we stay here?’ 

‘Just till we make sure that the right people get here first.’ 

Only seconds later they heard the ululating wails of approaching sirens. Very 
shortly afterwards, sirens still on and lights flashing, two police cars and a police 
van came at speed through the gateway and pulled up in a shower of spraying 
gravel and at least seven policemen ran up the steps and through the open 
doorway. Despite Harlow’s reassurance that the prisoners had been immobilized, 
they all considered it necessary to have their guns in their hands. 

Harlow said : The right people got here first.’ 

Fifteen minutes later, Harlow was seated in an armchair in Giancarlo’s 
laboratory. Giancarlo, leafing through a bundle of documents in his hands, 
heaved a long sigh. 

‘You do lead an interesting life, John. Here, there, everywhere. You’ve done 
us a great service tonight. The three men you speak of are indeed the notorious 
Marzio brothers. Widely supposed to be Sicilians and in the Mafia, but they’re 
not. As you’ve discovered, they’re Corsicans. Corsicans regard the Sicilian 
Mafiosa as bungling amateurs. Those three have been at the top of our list for 
years. Never any evidence — but they won’t get out of this one. Not when 
they’re found alongside several million francs’ worth of heroin. Well, one good 
turn deserves another.’ He handed some papers over to Harlow. ‘Jean-Claude has 
preserved his honour. He broke the code this evening. Interesting reading, no?’ 

After about a minute Harlow said : ‘Yes. A list of Tracchia’s and Neubauer’s 
drop-offs throughout Europe.’ 

‘No less.’ 

‘How long to get through to Dunnet?’ 

Giancarlo looked at him almost pityingly. ‘I can reach any place in France 
inside thirty seconds.’ 

There were almost a dozen policemen in the outer office of the police station 
together with Neubauer and his five felonious companions. Neubauer 
approached the sergeant at the desk. 

‘I have been charged. I wish to phone my lawyer. I have the right.’ 

‘You have the right.’ The sergeant nodded to the phone on the desk. 

‘Communications between lawyer and client are privileged.’ He indicated an 
adjacent phone booth. ‘I know what that’s for. So that the accused can talk to 
their lawyers. May I?’ 

The sergeant nodded again. 

A phone rang in a rather luxurious flat not half a mile from the police station. 
Tracchia was reclining at his ease on a couch in the lounge. Beside him was a 
luscious brunette who evinced a powerful aversion to wearing too many clothes. 
Tracchia scowled, picked the phone up and said : ‘My dear Willi! I am desolate. 

I was unavoidably detained —’ 

Neubauer’s voice carried clearly. 

‘Are you alone?’ 


Then be alone.’ 

Tracchia said to the girl: ‘Georgette, my dear, go powder your nose.’ She rose, 
sulkily, and left the room. Into the phone he said : ‘Clear now.’ 

You can thank your lucky stars that you were unavoidably detained otherwise 
you’d be where I am now — on the way to prison. Now listen.’ Tracchia listened 
very intently indeed, his normally handsome face ugly in anger as Neubauer 
gave a brief account of what had happened. He finished by saying: ‘So. Take the 
Lee Enfield and binoculars. If he gets there first pick him off when he comes 
ashore — if he survives Pauli’s attentions. If you get there first, go aboard and 
wait for him. Then lose the gun in the water. Who’s aboard The Chevalier now?’ 

‘Just Pauli. I’ll take Yonnie with me. I may need a lookout or signal-man. And 
look, Willi, not to worry. You’ll be sprung tomorrow. Associating with criminals 
is not a crime in itself and there’s not a single shred of evidence against you.’ 

‘How can we be sure? How can you be sure that you yourself are in the clear? 
I wouldn’t put anything beyond that bastard Harlow. Just get him for me.’ 

That, Willi, will be a pleasure.’ 

Harlow was on the phone in Giancarlo’s laboratory. He said : ‘So. 

Simultaneous arrests 5 a.m. tomorrow. There’s going to be an awful lot of 
unhappy people in Europe by 5.10 a.m. I’m in a bit of a hurry so I’ll leave 
Giancarlo to give you all the details. Hope to see you later tonight. Meantime, I 
have an appointment.’ 


Rory said: 'Mr. Harlow, are you secret service or special agent or something?’ 

Harlow glanced at him, then returned his eyes to the road. He was driving 
quickly but nowhere near his limit: there seemed to be no compelling urgency 
about the task on hand. He said: Tm an out of work race driver.’ 

‘Come on. Who are you kidding?’ 

‘No one. In your own phraseology, Rory,, just giving Mr. Dunnet a bit of a 
hand, like.’ 

‘Doing what, Mr. Harlow? I mean, Mr. Dunnet doesn’t seem to be doing very 
much, does he?’ 

‘Mr. Dunnet is a co-ordinator. I suppose I’m what might be called his field 

‘Yes. But doing what?’ 

‘Investigating other Grand Prix drivers. Keeping an eye on them, rather. And 
mechanics — anyone connected with racing.’ 

‘I see.’ Rory, clearly, did not see at all. ‘I’m not being rude, Mr. Harlow, but 
why pick you? Why not investigate you?’ 

‘A fair question. Probably because I’ve been so very lucky in the last two 
years or so that they figured that I was making more money honestly than I 
possibly could dishonestly.’ 

‘That figures.’ Rory was in a very judicial mood. ‘But why were you 

‘Because something has been smelling and smelling badly on the Grand Prix 
circuits for over a year now. Cars were losing that seemed a certainty to win. 

Cars were winning that shouldn’t have had a chance. Cars had mysterious 
accidents. Gars went off the track where Acre was no earthly reason why they 
should have gone off the track. They ran out of petrol when they shouldn’t have 
mn out of petrol. Engines over-heated through a mysterious loss of oil or coolant 
or both. Drivers fell ill at the most mysterious times — and the most 
inconvenient times. And as there is so much prestige, pride, power and above all 
profit in running a highly successful racing car, it was at first thought that a 
manufacturer or, more likely, a race team owner was trying to corner the market 
for himself.’ 

‘But he wasn’t?’ 

‘As you so brightly remark, he wasn’t. This became clear when manufacturers 
and team owners discovered that they were all being victimized. They 
approached Scotland Yard only to be told that they were powerless to intervene. 

The Yard called in Interpol. In effect, Mr. Dunnet.’ 

‘But how did you get on to people like Tracchia and Neubauer?’ 

‘In the main, illegally. Round the clock telephone switchboard watch, 
maximum surveillance of all suspects at every Grand Prix meeting and 
interception of all incoming and out-going mail. We found five drivers and seven 
or eight mechanics who were stashing away more money than they could have 
possibly earned. But it was an irregular sort of thing for most of them. It’s 
impossible to fix every race. But Tracchia and Neubauer were stashing it away 
after every race. So we figured they were selling something — and there’s only 
one thing you can sell for the kind of money they were getting.’ 

‘Drugs. Heroin.’ 

‘Indeed.’ He pointed ahead and Rory caught the sign ‘BANDOL’ picked up 
by the headlights. Harlow slowed, lowered his window, poked his head out and 
looked up. Bands of cloud were beginning to spread across the sky but there was 
still much more starlit sky than cloud. Harlow withdrew his head and said: ‘We 
could have picked a better night for the job. Far too damn bright. They’re bound 
to have a guard, maybe two, for your mother. Point is, will they be keeping a 
watch — not only seeing that your mother doesn’t escape but that no one comes 
aboard? No reason why they should assume that anyone should try to board The 
Chevalier — I can’t think of any way they can have heard of the misfortune that 
has happened to Neubauer and his pals. But that’s the way an organization like 
the Marzio brothers has survived so long-by never taking chances.’ 

‘So we assume there is a guard, Mr. Harlow?’ 

That is what we assume.’ 

Harlow drove into the little town, parked the car in an empty high-walled 
builder’s yard where it could not possibly be seen from the narrow alleyway 
outside. They left the car and soon, keeping in deep shadow, were cautiously 
picking their way along the small waterfront and harbour. They halted and 
scanned the bay to the east. 

‘Isn’t that her?’ Although there was no one within earshot, Rory’s voice was a 
tense whisper. ‘Isn’t that her?’ 

‘The Chevalier for sure.’ 

There were at least a dozen yachts and cruisers anchored in the brilliantly 
moonlit and almost mirror-smooth little bay. The one nearest the shore was a 
rather splendid motor yacht, nearer fifty feet than forty, and had very definitely a 
blue hull and white topsides. 

‘And now?’ Rory said. ‘What do we do now?’ He was shivering, not because 

of cold or, as had been the case in the Villa Hermitage, of apprehension, but 
because of sheer excitement. Harlow glanced thoughtfully upwards. The sky was 
still heavily overcast although there was a bar of cloud moving in the direction 
of the moon. 

'Eat. I’m hungry. 5 

'Eat? Eat? But-but, I mean- 5 Rory gestured towards the yacht. 

‘All things in their time. Your mother’s hardly likely to vanish in the next 
hour. Besides, if we were to — ah - borrow a boat and go out to The Chevalier 
... I don’t much fancy being picked out in this brilliant moonlight. There are 
clouds moving across. Let’s bide a wee.’ 

'Let’s what?’ 

‘An old Scottish phrase. Let’s wait a little while Festina lente. ’ 

Rory looked at him in bafflement. ‘Festina what?’ 

‘You really are an ignorant young layabout.’ Harlow smiled to rob his words 
of offence. ‘An even older Latin phrase. Make haste slowly.’ 

They moved away and brought up at a waterside cafe which Harlow inspected 
from the outside. He shook his head and they walked on to a second cafe, where 
the same thing happened. The third cafe they entered. It was three-parts empty. 
They took seats by a curtained window. 

Rory said: ‘What’s -this place got that the others haven’t?’ 

Harlow twitched back the curtain. ‘A view.’ Their vantage point commanded 
an excellent view of The Chevalier. 

T see.’ Rory consulted his menu without enthusiasm. ‘I can’t eat a thing.’ 

Harlow said encouragingly: ‘Let’s try a little something.’ 

Live minutes later two enormous dishes of bouillabaisse were set before them. 
Live minutes after that Rory’s dish was completely empty. Harlow smiled at both 
the empty plate and Rory, then his smile abruptly vanished. 

‘Rory. Look at me. Don’t look elsewhere. Especially don’t look at the bar. Act 
and speak naturally. Bloke’s just come in whom I used to know very slightly. A 
mechanic who left the Coronado team a few weeks after I joined. Your father 
fired him for theft. He was very friendly with Tracchia and from the fact that 
he’s in Bandol it’s a million to one that he still is.’ 

A small dark man in brown overalls, so lean and scrawny as to be almost 
wizened, sat at the bar with a full glass of beer before him. He took his first sip 
of it and as he did so his eyes strayed to the mirror at the back of the bar. He 
could clearly see Harlow talking earnestly to Rory. He spluttered and half- 
choked over his beer. He lowered his glass, put coins on the counter and left as 

unobtrusively as possible. 

Harlow said: ‘ 'Yonnie’ they used to call him. I don’t know his real name. I 
think he’s certain we neither saw nor recognized him. If he’s with Tracchia, and 
he must be, this makes it for sure that Tracchia is already aboard. Either 
Tracchia’s temporarily relieved him of guard duties so that he could come ashore 
for a much-needed drink or Tracchia’s sent him away because he doesn’t want 
any witnesses around when he picks me off when I go out to the boat.’ 

Harlow pulled back the curtains and they both looked out. They could see a 
small outboard-powered dinghy heading directly towards The Chevalier, Rory 
looked questioningly at Harlow. 

Harlow said: 'Our Nicolo Tracchia is an impulsive, not to say impetuous lad, 
which is why he’s not quite the driver he could be. Five minutes from now he’ll 
be in the shadows somewhere outside waiting to gun me down the moment I step 
out of here. Run up to the car, Rory. Bring me some of that twine —and adhesive 
tape. I think we may need it. Meet me about fifty yards along the quay there, at 
the head of the landing steps.’ 

As Harlow signalled the waiter for his bill, Rory left, walking with some 
degree of restraint. As soon as he had passed through the bead-curtained 
doorway he broke into a dead run. Arrived at the Ferrari, he opened the boot, 
stuffed twine and tape into his pockets, closed the boot, hesitated, then opened 
the driver’s door and pulled out the four automatics from under the seat. He 
selected the smallest, pushed the other three back into concealment, studied the 
one he held in his hand, eased the safety catch off, looked guiltily around and 
stuffed the automatic into an inside pocket. He made his way quickly down to 
the waterfront. 

Near the top of the landing steps was a double row of barrels, stacked two 
high. Harlow and Rory stood silently in the shadow, -the former with a gun in 
his hand. They could both see and hear the outboard dinghy approaching. The 
engine slowed, then cut out: there came the sound of feet mounting the wooden 
landing steps, then two figures appeared on the quay, Tracchia and Yonnie: 
Tracchia was carrying a rifle. Harlow moved out from the shadows. 

'Keep quite still,’ he said. Tracchia, that gun on the ground. Hands high and 
turn your backs to me. I get tired of repeating myself but the first of you to make 
the slightest suspicious movement will be shot through the back of the head. At 
four feet I am not likely to miss. Rory, see what your former friend and his friend 
are carrying.’ 

Rory’s search produced two guns. 

Throw them in the water. Come on, you two. Behind those barrels. Face 
down, hands behind your backs. Rory, attend to our friend Yonnie.’ 

With the expertise born of recent and intensive practice Rory had Yonnie 
trussed like a turkey in less than two minutes. 

Harlow said : ‘You know what the tape is for?’ 

Rory knew what the tape was for. He used about a couple of feet of black 
insulated adhesive tape that effectively ensured Yonnie’s total silence. 

Harlow said: Clan he breathe?’ 


‘ ‘Just’ is enough. Not that it matters. We’ll leave him here. Maybe someone 
will find him in the morning. Not that that matters either. Up, Tracchia.’ 

‘But aren’t you — ‘ 

‘Mr. Tracchia we need. Who’s to say there isn’t another guard aboard? 
Tracchia here is a specialist in hostages so he’ll know what we want him for.’ 

Rory looked up at the sky. that cloud that’s moving towards the moon is 
taking its time about it.’ 

‘It doesn’t appear to be in any great hurry about it. But we’ll take a chance on 
it. We have our life assurance with us.’ 

The outboard motor dinghy moved across the moonlit water. Traccia was at 
the controls while Harlow, gun in hand, sat amidships facing him. Rory was in 
the bows, facing forward. At this point, the blue and white yacht was only a 
hundred yards away. 

In the wheelhouse of the yacht a tall and powerfully built man had a pair of 
binoculars to his eyes. His face tightened. He laid down the binoculars, took a 
gun from a drawer, left the wheelhouse, climbed the ladder there and 
spreadeagled himself on the cabin roof. ‘ 

The dinghy came alongside the water-skiing steps at the stern and Rory made 
fast. At a gesture from Harlow, Tracchia climbed the ladder first and moved back 
slowly as Harlow, the gun trained on him, climbed the steps in turn. Rory 
followed. Harlow made a gesture that Rory should remain where he was, thrust 
his gun in Tracchia’s back and moved off to search the boat. 

One minute later Harlow, Rory and a blackly scowling Tracchia were in The 
Chevalier’s brightly lit saloon. 

Harlow said: ‘No one aboard, it seems. I take it that Mrs. MacAlpine is 
behind that locked door below. I want the key, Tracchia.’ 

A deep voice said: ‘Stand still. Don’t turn round. 

‘Drop that gun.’ 

Harlow stood still, didn’t turn round and dropped his gun. The seaman walked 
into the saloon from the after door. 

Tracchia smiled, almost beatifically. That was well done, Pauli.’ 

‘My pleasure, Signor Tracchia.’ He passed by Rory, gave him a contemptuous 
shove that sent him reeling into a corner of the settee and moved forward to pick 
up Harlow’s gun. 

‘You drop your gun. Now!’ Rory’s voice had a most distinct quaver to it. 

Pauli swung around, an expression of total astonishment on his face. Rory had 
a gun clutched in two very unsteady hands. 

Pauli smiled broadly. ‘Well, well, well. What a brave little gamecock.’ He 
brought up his gun. 

Rory’s hands and arms were trembling like an aspen leaf in an autumn gale. 
He compressed his lips, screwed his eyes shut and pulled the trigger. In that 
confined space the report of the gun was deafening but even so not loud enough 
to drown out Pauli’s shout of agony. Pauli stared down in stupefaction as the 
blood from his shattered right shoulder seeped down between the clutching 
fingers of his left hand. Tracchia, too, wore a similarly bemused expression, one 
that changed to one of considerable pain as Harlow’s vicious swinging left hook 
sank deeply into his stomach. He bent double, Harlow struck him on the back of 
the neck but Tracchia was tough and durable. Still bent almost double, he 
staggered through the after door out on to the deck. As he did so, he passed 
Rory, very pale and looking very faint and clearly through with shooting exploits 
for the night. It was as well. Harlow was in such close pursuit that he might well 
have been the victim of Rory’s extremely wobbly marksmanship. 

Rory looked at the wounded Pauli then at the two guns lying at his feet. Rory 
rose and pointed his gun at Pauli. He said : ‘Sit down.’ 

Pain-wracked though he was, Pauli moved with alacrity to obey. There was no 
saying where Rory’s next unpredictable shot might lodge itself. As he moved to 
a corner of the saloon the sound of blows and grunts of pain could be clearly 
heard from outside. Rory scooped up the two guns and ran through the after 

On deck, the fight had clearly reached its climax. Tracchia, his wildly flailing 
feet clear of the deck and his body arched like a bow, had his back on the 
guardrail and the upper half of his body over the water. Harlow’s hands were on 
his throat. Tracchia, in turn, was belabouring Harlow’s already sadly battered 
and bruised face, but the belabouring was of no avail. Harlow, his face 
implacable, pushed him farther and farther out. Suddenly changing his tactics, he 

removed his right hand from Tracchia’s throat, hooked it under his thighs and 
proceeded to tip him over the guard-rail. When Tracchia spoke, his voice came 
as a wholly understandable croak. 

‘I can’t swim! I can’t swim!’ 

If Harlow had heard him there was not even the most minuscule change of 
expression on his face to register that fact. He gave a final convulsive heave, the 
flailing legs disappeared and Tracchia entered the water with a, resounding 
splash that threw water as high as Harlow’s face. A barred cloud had at last 
crossed the moon. Harlow gazed down intently into the water for about fifteen 
seconds, produced 'his torch and made a complete circuit of the water around the 
yacht until he arrived back at his starting place. Again, still breathing deeply and 
quickly, he peered over the side, then turned to Rory. He said: ‘Maybe he Was 
right at that. Maybe he can’t swim.’ 

Rory tore off his jacket. ‘I can swim. I’m a very good swimmer, Mr. Harlow.’ 

Harlow’s iron hand grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. ‘You, Rory, are out 
of your mind.’ 

Rory looked at him for a long moment, nodded, picked up his jacket and put it 
on again. He said: ‘Vermin?’ 

‘Yes.’ They went back into the saloon. Pauli was still huddled in a settee, 
moaning. Harlow said: The key to Mrs. MacAlpine’s cabin.’ 

Pauli nodded in the direction of a cabinet drawer. Harlow found the key, 
removed the first-aid box from its clip on the bulkhead, ushered Pauli below at 
the point of his gun, opened the first cabin door, gestured Pauli inside and threw 
in the first-aid box. He said: ‘I’ll have a doctor here within half an hour. 
Meantime, I don’t care a damn whether you live or die.’ He left and locked the 
cabin door from the outside. 

In the next cabin, a woman of about forty sat on a stool by her bunk. Pale and 
thin from her long confinement, she was still quite beautiful. The resemblance to 
her daughter was startling. She was listless, totally apathetic, the epitome of 
resignation and despair. The sound of the gun and the commotion on the upper 
deck could not have gone unregistered, but no signs of registration showed in her 

A key turned in the lock, the door opened and Harlow came in. She made no 
move. He walked to within three feet of her and still she gazed uncaringly 

Harlow touched her shoulder and said, very gently: ‘I’ve come to take you 
home, Marie.’ 

She turned her head in slow and unbelieving wonderment, initially and 
understandably not recognizing the battered face before her. Then, slowly, 
almost incredulously, recognition dawned upon her. She rose unsteadily to her 
feet, half smiled at him, then tremblingly took a step forward, put her thin arms 
around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder. 

‘Johnny Harlow,’ she whispered. ‘My dear, dear Johnny. Johnny Harlow. 

What have they done to your face?’ 

‘Nothing that time won’t cure,’ Harlow said briskly. ‘After all, it wasn’t all 
that hot to begin with.’ He patted her back as if to reassure her of his actual 
presence, then gently disengaged himself. ‘I think there’s someone else who 
would like to see you, Marie.’ 

For someone who claimed that he could not swim, Tracchia was cleaving 
through the water like a torpedo. He reached the landing steps, scrambled up to 
the quay, and headed for the nearest phone booth. He put through a .reverse 
charge call to Vignolles and had to stand there for almost five minutes before his 
call came through: the French telephone service is not world renowned. He 
asked for Jacobson and finally reached him in his bedroom. Tracchia’s account 
of the evening’s happenings were succinct and to the point but could have been 
shorter as it was heavily burdened with a wide range of expletives. ‘So that’s it, 
Jake,’ Tracchia finished up. That bastard has outsmarted us all.’ 

Jacobson’s face, as he sat on his bed, was tight with anger but he was clearly 
in control of himself. He said : ‘Not quite yet. So we’ve lost our ace in the hole. 
We’ll just have to get ourselves another one, won’t we? You understand? Meet 
you at Bandol inside the hour. Usual ‘place.’ 



‘In my bedside table drawer. And for Christ’s sake bring me a set of dry 
clothing or I’ll have pneumonia before the night is out.’ 

Tracchia emerged from the phone booth. He was actually smiling. He went to 
take up position among some crates and barrels, seeking a safe position where he 
could keep The Chevalier under observation and, in the process of doing so, 
literally tripped over the prostrate Yonnie. 

‘Good God, Yonnie, I’d forgotten just where you were’.’ The bound and 
gagged man looked up with pleading eyes. Tracchia shook his head. ‘Sorry, can’t 
untie you yet. That bastard Harlow, young MacAlpine rather, has shot Pauli. I 
had to swim for it. The two of them will be coming ashore any minute. Harlow 
may check whether you’re still here. If he does, and you’re gone, he’ll raise a 

hue and cry immediately: if you’re still here he’ll reckon that you can be left in 
cold storage for a while. Gives us more time to play with. When they’ve landed 
and gone take the dinghy out to The Chevalier. Find a bag and stuff it with all the 
papers in the two top drawers of the chart-table. God, if the police were ever to 
lay hands on that lot! Among other things, your days would be numbered. You’ll 
take them to your place in Marseilles in my car and wait mere. If you get those 
papers you’re in the clear. Harlow didn’t recognize you, it was too dark in the 
shadows here, nobody even knows your name. Understand?’ 

Yonnie nodded glumly then turned his head in the direction of the harbor. 
Tracchia nodded. The sound of the outboard was unmistakable and soon the 
dinghy appeared in sight round the bows of The Chevalier. Tracchia prudently 
withdrew twenty or thirty yards along the waterfront. The dinghy came 
alongside the landing steps and Rory was the first out, painter in hand. As he 
secured the dinghy, Harlow helped Marie ashore, then followed himself, her 
suitcase in his hand. His gun was in his other hand. Tracchia toyed briefly with 
the idea of way-laying Harlow in the shadows but almost immediately and very 
pmdently changed his mind. He knew that Harlow would be in no mood to be 
taking any chances and, if necessary, would shoot and shoot to kill without the 
slightest compunction. 

Harlow came straight to where Yonnie lay, bent over him, straightened and 
said: ‘He’ll keep.’ The three crossed the road to the nearest phone booth —the 
one that Tracchia had lately occupied-and Harlow went inside. Tracchia moved 
stealthily along behind the cover of barrels and crates until he reached Yonnie. 

He produced a knife and cut him free. Yonnie sat up and he had the expression 
of a man who would have given a great deal to be able to shout in pain. He 
mbbed hands and wrists in agony: Rory was no respecter of circulations. By and 
by, gingerly and clearly not enjoying the process, he removed the insulated tape 
from his face. He opened his mouth but Tracchia clapped his hand across it to 
prevent what would be doubtless a torrential outpouring of imprecations. 

‘Quiet,’ Tracchia whispered, they’re just on the other side of the road. 
Harlow’s in the phone booth.’ He removed his hand. ‘When they leave, I’m 
going to follow them to see that they do really leave Bandol. As soon as they’re 
out of sight, get down to the dinghy. Use -the oars. We don’t want Harlow 
hearing the outboard start up and coming back to investigate.’ 

‘Me? Row?’ Yonnie said huskily. He flexed his fingers and winced. ‘My 
hands are dead.’ 

‘You’d better get them back to life fast,’ Tracchia said unfeelingly. ‘Oryou’re 

going to be dead. Ah, now.’ He lowered his voice still further. 'He’s just left the 
phone box. Be dead quiet. That bastard Harlow can hear a leaf drop twenty feet 

Harlow, Rory and Mrs. MacAlpine walked up a street away from the 
waterfront. They turned a corner and disappeared. Tracchia said: ‘Get going.’ 

He watched Yonnie head for the landing steps then followed quickly after the 
trio in front. For about three minutes he trailed them at a very discreet distance 
indeed, then lost sight of them as they turned another left corner. He peered 
cautiously round the corner, saw that it was a cul-de-sac, hesitated and then 
stiffened as he heard the unmistakable sound of a Ferrari engine starting up. 
Shivering violently in his still soaking clothes, he pressed himself into the 
darkness of a recessed and’ unlit alleyway. The Ferrari emerged from the cul-de- 
sac, turned left and headed north out of Bandol. Tracchia watched it go then 
hurried back to the phone booth. ‘ There was the usual frustrating delay in 
getting through to Vignolles. Eventually, he succeeded in reaching Jacobson. He 
said: ‘Harlow’s just left with Rory and Mrs. MacAlpine. He made a phone call 
before he left -almost certainly to Vignolles to tell MacAlpine that he’s got his 
wife back. I’d leave by the back door if I were you.’ 

‘No worry,’ Jacobson sounded confident. ‘I am leaving by the back door. The 
fire-escape. I’ve already got our cases in the Aston and our passports in my 
pocket. I’m now on my way to collect our third passport. See you. ‘ 

Tracchia replaced the receiver. He was about to open the booth door when he 
stopped and stood as if a man turned to stone. A large black Citroen had slid 
silently down to the waterfront, showing only side-lights. Even those were 
switched off before the car came to a halt. No flashing lights, no howling sirens 
—but it was indisputably a police car and one paying a very private visit. Four 
uniformed policemen came out of the car. Tracchia pried open the door of the 
booth so that the automatic light went out, then leaned as far back as possible, 
praying that he wouldn’t be seen. He wasn’t. The four policemen at once 
disappeared behind the -barrels where Yonnie had been, two of them with lit 
torches in hand, and reappeared within ten seconds, one of them carrying some 
unidentifiable objects in his hand. Tracchia did not need to see it to know what 
the man was carrying — the twine and black tape that had immobilized and 
silenced Yonnie. The four policemen held a brief conference then headed for the 
landing steps. Twenty seconds later a rowing boat was heading purposefully but 
silently towards The Chevalier. 

Tracchia emerged from the booth, fists clenched, his face black with anger 

and sofdy but audibly swearing to himself. The only printable word, and one that 
was repeated many times, was 'Harlow 5 . The bitter realization had come to 
Tracchia that Harlow had not phoned Vignolles: he had phoned the local police. 

In her room in Vignolles Mary was getting ready for dinner when a knock 
came at her door. She opened it to find Jacobson standing there. He said: ‘Can I 
have a private word with you, Mary? It’s very important.’ 

She regarded him with mild astonishment then opened the door for him to 
enter. Jacobson closed the door behind him. 

She said curiously: ‘What’s so important? What do you want?’ 

Jacobson pulled a gun from his waist-band. ‘You. I’m in trouble and I need 
some form of security to make sure that I don’t get into more trouble. You’re the 
security. Pack an overnight bag and give me your passport’ 

She gave him her passport and packed the bag. Jacobson crossed to the bed 
and snapped shut the catches of her case. ‘You’d better come now.’ 

‘Where are you taking me?’ 

‘Now, I said.’ He lifted his gun menacingly. 

Then you’d better shoot me now. Number eight.’ 

‘Cuneo. Then parts beyond.’ His voice was harsh but had the ring of sincerity. 
‘I never make war on women. You’ll be released within twenty-four hours.’ 

‘I’ll be dead in twenty-four hours.’ She picked up her handbag. ‘May I go to 
the bathroom? I feel sick.’ 

Jacobson opened the bathroom door and looked inside. ‘No window. No 
telephone. OK.’ 

Mary entered the bathroom and closed the door behind her. She took a pen 
from her handbag, scribbled a few shaky words on a piece of paper, placed the 
paper face down on the floor behind the door and left. Jacob-son was waiting for 
her. He had her case in his left hand, a gun in the other. Both gun and right hand 
were buried deep in his jacket pocket. 

On board The Chevalier, Yonnie thrust the last of the documents from the 
chart-table into a large briefcase. He returned to the saloon, placed the briefcase 
on a settee and went down the companionway to the accommodation quarters. 

He went to his own cabin and there spent a hurried five minutes in cramming his 
own most personal possessions into a canvas bag. He then made a tour of the 
other cabins, rifling the drawers for whatever money or articles of value that he 
might find. He found a considerable amount, returned to his own cabin and 
stuffed them inside his bag. He zipped the bag shut and climbed up the 
companionway. Four steps from the top he stopped. His face should have been 

masked in disbelief and terror but it wasn’t. Yonnie had run out of emotions and 
the capacity to display them. 

Four very large armed policemen were resting comfortably on the settees in 
the saloon. A sergeant, with the briefcase on his knees, his elbow on the case and 
a gun in his hand pointing approximately hi the direction of Yonnie’s heart, said 
genially: ‘Going some place Yonnie?’ 


Once again, the Ferrari was moving through the darkness. Harlow was not 
idling but neither was he pushing the car hard. As on the trip from Marseilles to 
Bandol, it seemed that the need for urgency was not there. Mrs. MacAlpine was 
in the front passenger seat wearing, at Harlow’s insistence, a double safety belt. 

A rather drowsy Rory was stretched out on the back seats. 

Harlow said: 'So, you see, it was all quite simple, really. Jacobson was the 
master-mind behind this particular operation. It will turn out that the Marzio 
brothers were the ones that really mattered. Anyway, it was Jacobson’s idea to 
gamble on the Grand Prix drivers and he altered the odds in his favour by 
suborning no fewer that five drivers. Plus even more mechanics. He paid them 
plenty — but he made a fortune himself. I was the thorn in his flesh — he knew 
better than to try to get at me, and as I was winning the majority ©f the races it 
was making his business very difficult indeed. So he tried to kill me at Clermont- 
Ferrand. I have proof— both stills and cine film.’ 

In the rear Rory stirred sleepily. 'But how could he do that to you while you 
were on the track?’ 

‘Me? And a lot of others? Two ways. A radio-controlled explosive device on a 
suspension strut or a chemically operated explosive device on the hydraulic 
brake lines. Both devices, I imagine, would blow clear on detonation and leave 
no trace of their presence. Anyway, it’s on film record that Jacobson replaced 
both a strut and a brake line.’ 

Rory said: ‘Which is why he always insisted on being alone when inspecting 
smashed cars?’ 

Harlow nodded, temporarily lost in thought. Mrs. MacAlpine said : ‘But how 
— how could you degrade yourself in this awful fashion?’ 

‘Well, it wasn’t all that pleasant. But you know the blaze of publicity I live in. 
I couldn’t move privately, more or less to brush my teeth, than to do the job I 
was asked to. I had to take the heat off myself, step out of the limelight and 
become a loner. It wasn’t all that difficult. As for working my way down to the 
transporter job —well, I had to find out whether the stuff was coming from the 
Coronado garage or not. It was.’ 

The stuff?’ 

The dust. European jargon for heroin. My dear Marie, there are more ways to 
dusty death than losing control on a Grand Prix race-track.’ 

The way to dusty death.’ She shivered and repeated the words, the way to 
dusty death. Did James know about this, Johnny?’ 

‘He knew six months ago that the transporter was being used —oddly enough, 
he never suspected Jacob-son. They’d been together too long, I suppose. Some 
way, any way, they had to have the price of his silence. You were that price. And 
for good measure he was also being blackmailed for approximately twenty-five 
thousand pounds a month.’ 

She was silent for almost a minute then she said: ‘Did James know I was still 


‘But he knew about the heroin —all those months he knew. Think of all those 
people ruined, perhaps dead. Think of all-’ 

Harlow reached out his right hand and caught her left in his. ‘I think, Marie, 
that perhaps he loves you.’ 

A car approached then, headlights dipped. Harlow dipped his. Briefly, as if by 
mistake, the approaching car’s headlights came on full beam, then dipped again. 

As they passed each other, the driver of the other cab turned to his passenger, 
a girl with her hands bound in front of her. 

Tut! Tut! Tut!’ Jacobson sounded in almost high humour. ‘Young Lochinvar 
headed in the wrong direction.’ 

In the Ferrari Mrs. MacAlpine said: ‘And James will have to stand trial for his 
- complicity in this heroin traffic?’ 

‘James will never stand trial for anything.’ 

‘But heroin —’ 

Harlow said: ‘Heroin? Heroin? Rory, did you hear anyone mentioning the 
word ‘heroin’?’ 

‘Mother’s been through a pretty rough time,. Mr. Harlow. I think she is 
beginning to imagine things.’ ‘ 

The Aston Martin pulled up outside a darkened cafe on the outskirts of 
Bandol. A violently shivering Traccia emerged from the shadows and climbed 
into the back of the Aston Martin. 

He said : ‘Complete with insurance policy, I see. Now, for God’s sake, Jake, 
stop at the first clump of trees outside Bandol. Unless I change out of these 
clothes damn quick I’m going to freeze to death.’ 

‘Right. Where’s Yonnie?’ 

‘In gaol.’ 

‘Jesus! ’Even the abnormally phlegmatic Jacobson was shaken. ‘What in the 
hell happened?’ 

‘I’d sent Yonnie out in the dinghy while I was phoning you. I’d told him to 

bring ashore all the papers and documents in the two top drawers in the chart- 
table. You know how important those are, Jake ? 5 

‘I know.’ There was no disguising the harsh edge of strain in Jacobson’s 

‘Remember I’d told you that I thought Harlow had phoned Vignolles? He 
hadn’t. The bastard had phoned the Bandol police. They arrived while I was still 
in the phone booth. There was nothing I could do. They rowed out to The 
Chevalier and nabbed him there.’ 

‘And the papers?’ 

‘One of the police was carrying a large attache case.’ 

‘I don’t think that Bandol is a very healthy place for us to be.’ Jacobson was 
back on balance again. He drove off but not in a fashion ostentatious enough to 
attract attention. As they reached the outskirts of the town he said: That’s it, 
then. What with those papers and that cassette the whole operation’s blown. 
Termine. Fine. The end of the road.’ He seemed remarkably calm. 

‘And now?’ 

‘Operation fly-away. I’ve had it planned for months. First stop is our flat in 

‘Nobody knows about it?’ 

‘Nobody. Except Willi. And he won’t talk. Besides, it’s not under our names 
anyway.’ He pulled up alongside a thicket of trees, the boot’s unlocked and the 
grey case is yours. Those clothes you’re wearing — leave them among the 

‘Why? It’s a perfectly good suit and — ‘ 

‘What’s going to happen if the Customs search us and find a suit of soaking 
wet clothes?’ 

‘You have a point,’ Tracchia said and got out of the car. When he returned in 
two or three minutes, Jacob-son was in the back seat. Tracchia said: ‘You want 
me to drive? ‘ 

‘We’re in a Hurry and my name is not Nicolo Tracchia.’ As Tracchia engaged 
gear he went on: ‘We should have no trouble with the Customs and police at the 
Col de Tende. The word won’t be out for hours yet. It’s quite possible that they 
haven’t discovered that Mary is missing yet. Besides, they’ve no idea where 
we’re heading. No reason why they should notify border police. 

But by the time we reach the Swiss frontier we may be in trouble.’ ‘So?’ 

Two hours in Cuneo. We’ll switch cars, leave the Aston in the garage and take 
the Peugeot. Pack some more clothes for ourselves, pick up our other passports 

and identification papers, then call in Erita and our photographer friend. Within 
the hour Erita will have turned our Mary into a blonde and very shortly 
afterwards our friend will have a nice shiny British passport for her. Then we 
drive up to Switzerland. If the word is out, then the border boys will be on the 
alert. Well, as alert as those cretins can be in the middle of the night. But they’ll 
be looking for an Aston Martin with one man and a brunette inside - that’s 
assuming our friends back in Vignolles have managed to put two and two 
together, which I very much doubt. But they won’t be looking for two men and 
blonde in a Peugeot, with passports carrying completely different names.’ 

Tracchia was now driving the car close to its limits and he had almost to shout 
to make himself heard. The Aston Martin is a magnificent machine but not 
particularly renowned for the quietness of its engine: there were carping critics 
who occasionally maintained that the engines for the David Brown tractor 
division found their way into the wrong machines. Ferrari and Lamborghini 
owners had been known to describe it as the fastest lorry in Europe. Tracchia 
said : ‘You sound very sure of yourself, Jake.’ 

‘I am.’ 

Tracchia glanced at the girl by his side. ‘And Mary here? God knows we’re 
no angels but I don’t want any harm to come to her.’ 

‘No harm. I told her I don’t make war on women and I’ll keep my word on 
that. She’s our safe conduct if the police come after us.’ 

‘Or Johnny Harlow?’ 

‘Or Harlow. When we get to Zurich, each of us will go to the bank in turns, 
cash and transfer money while the others keeps her as hostage. Then we fly out 
into the wild blue yonder.’ 

‘You expect trouble in Zurich?’ 

‘None. We haven’t even been arrested far less convicted so our Zurich friends 
won’t open up. Besides, we’re under different names and with numbered 

The wild blue yonder? With teleprinted copies of our photographs at every 
airport in the world?’ 

‘Only the major ones on scheduled flights. Lots of minor airfields around. 
There’s a private flight division in Kloten airport and I have a pilot friend there. 
He’ll file a flight plan for Geneva which will mean that we don’t have to pass 
customs. We’ll land somewhere quite a way from Switzerland. He can always 
claim that he was hi-jacked. Ten thousand Swiss francs should fit it.’ 

You think of everything, don’t you, Jake?’ There was genuine admiration in 

Tracchia’s voice. 

‘I try.’ Jacobson, uncharacteristically, sounded almost complacent. 'I try.’ 

The red Ferrari was drawn up outside the chalet in Vignolles. MacAlpine held 
his sobbing wife in his arms but he was not looking as happy as he might have 
done in the circumstances. Dunnet approached Harlow. 

‘How do you feel, boy?’ 

‘Bloody well exhausted.’ 

‘I’ve bad news, Johnny. Jacobson’s gone.’ 

‘He can wait. I’ll get him.’ 

‘There’s more to it than that, Johnny.’ 


‘He’s token Mary with him.’ 

Harlow stood immobile, his drawn and weary face without expression. He 
said: ‘Does James know?’ 

‘I’ve just told him. And I think he’s just telling his wife.’ He handed a note to 
Harlow. ‘I found this in Mary’s bathroom.’ 

Harlow looked at it. ‘ ‘Jacobson is taking me to Cuneo.’ ‘ Without even a 
pause he said: I’ll go now.’ 

‘You can’t, man! You’re totally exhausted. You said so yourself.’ 

‘Not any more. Come with me?’ 

Dunnet accepted the inevitable. ‘You stop me. But I’ve no gun.’ 

‘Guns we have,’ Rory said. He produced four as proof of his assertion. “ 
-’We?’ Harlow said. ‘You’re not coming.’ 

‘I would remind you, Mr. Harlow,’ Rory said with some asperity, that I saved 
your life twice tonight. All good things come in threes. I have the right.’ ‘ ‘ 
Harlow nodded. ‘You have the right.’ 

MacAlpine and his wife were staring numbly at them. The expressions on 
their faces were an extraordinary combination of happiness and a broken 

MacAlpine said, tears in his eyes: ‘Alexis has told me everything. I’ll never 
be able to thank you, I’ll never be able to forgive myself and the rest of my life 
will be too short for the apologies I have to make to you. You destroyed your 
career, ruined yourself, to bring my Marie back.’ 

‘Ruined me?’ Harlow said calmly. ‘Nonsense. There’s another season coming 
up.’ He smiled without mirth. ‘And there’ll be a fair bit of the top-flight 
opposition missing.’ He smiled again, this time encouragingly. ‘I’ll bring Mary 
back. With your help, James. Everybody knows you. You know everybody and 

you’re a millionaire. There’s only one way from here to Cuneo. Phone someone, 
preferably some big trucking firm in Nice. Offer them £10,000 to block the 
French end of the Cool de Tende. My passport’s gone. You ‘understand ?’ 

‘I’ve a friend in Nice who would do it for nothing. But what’s the use, 

Johnny? It’s a job for the police.’ 

‘No. And I’m not thinking about the continental habit of first of all riddling 
wanted cars and then asking the dead bodies questions. What I —’ 

‘Johnny, whether you or the police get to them first makes no difference. I 
know now that you know everything, have known for a long time. Those are the 
two men who will bring me down.’ 

Harlow said mildly: there’s a third man, James. Willi Neubauer. But he’ll 
never talk. Admission to kidnapping would bring him another ten years in 
prison. You weren’t listening to me, James. Phone Nice. Phone Nice now. All I 
said was that I would bring Mary back.’ 

Mac Alpine and his wife stood together, listening to the howl of the Ferrari 
engine die away in the distance. In what was almost a whisper, Marie MacAlpine 
said: ‘What did that mean, James? ‘All I said is that I would bring Mary back.” 

‘I’ve got to phone Nice and at once. Then the biggest drink the chateau can 
offer, a small dinner then bed. There’s nothing more we can do now.’ He paused, 
then went on almost sadly : ‘I have my limitations. I do not operate in Johnny 
Harlow’s class.’ 

‘What did he mean, James?’ 

‘What he said.’ MacAlpine tightened his arm around his wife’s shoulder. ‘He 
brought you back, didn’t he? He’ll bring our Mary back. Don’t you know they’re 
in love?’ 

‘What did he mean, James?’ 

MacAlpine said in a dead voice: Tie meant that neither of us would ever see 
Jacobson and Tracchia again.’ 

The nightmare journey to the Col de Tende, a journey that would live in the 
minds of Dunnet and Rory for ever, was conducted, with only one exception, in 
absolute conversational silence, partially because Harlow was completely 
concentrated on the job on hand, partially because both Dunnet and Rory had 
been reduced to a state pretty close to abject terror. Harlow was not only driving 
the Ferrari to its limits-in the opinions of his two passengers he was driving it far 
beyond its limits. As they drove along the autoroute between Cannes and Nice, 
Dunnet looked at the speedometer. It read 260 kph — something over 160 miles 
per hour. 

He said: ‘May I say something?’ 

For a flicker of a second Harlow glanced at him. ‘But of course.’ 

‘Jesus Christ Almighty. Superstar, if you want. The best driver in the world, 
like enough the best driver who’s ever lived. But in all bloody hell -’ 

‘Language,’ Harlow said mildly. ‘My young future brother-in-law is sitting 
behind us.’ 

This is the way you earn a living?’ 

‘Well, yes.’ While the seat-belted Dunnet clung in desperate apprehension to 
any available hand-hold, Harlow braked, changed down, and with all four 
wheels in a screaming slide and at just under a hundred miles an hour, rounded a 
corner that few other drivers, however competent, would have attempted at 
seventy. ‘But you must admit it’s better than working.’ 

‘Jesus!’ Dunnet lapsed into a semi-stunned silence and closed his eyes like a 
man in prayer. Very probably he was. 

The N204, the road between Nice and La Giandola, where it links up with the 
road from Ventimiglia, is a very winding one, with some spectacular hairpins 
and rising in places to over three thousand feet, but Harlow treated it all as if he 
were driving along the auto-route. Presently, both Dunnet and Rory had their 
eyes closed: it could have been exhaustion but, more likely, they didn’t want to 
see what was going on.. 

The road was entirely empty. They crossed over the Col de Braus, went 
through Sospel at a ludicrously illegal speed, passed through the Col de Brouis 
and reached La Giandola without having met a single car, which was perhaps 
just as well for the nerves of any driver who might have been coming the other 
way. Then they went north through Saorge, Fontan and finally the township of 
Tende itself. It was just beyond Tende that Dunnet stirred and opened his eyes. 

He said: ‘Am I still alive?’ 

‘I think so.’ ‘ 

Dunnet rubbed his eyes. ‘What was that you just said about your brother-in- 

‘ ‘Just’ was a long time ago.’ Harlow pondered. ‘Looks as if someone has to 
look after the MacAlpine family. I might as well make it official.’ 

‘You secretive so-and-so. Engaged?’ 

‘Well, no. I haven’t asked her yet. And I have news for you, Alexis. You’re 
going to drive this car back to Vignolles while I sleep -the sleep of the just. In 
the back seat. With Mary.’ 

‘You haven’t even asked her yet and you’re certain you’re going to get her 

back.’ Dunnet looked at Harlow in disbelief and shook his head. ‘You, Johnny 
Harlow, are the most arrogant human being I’ve ever known.’ 

‘Don’t you knock my future brother-in-law, Mr. Dunnet,’ Rory said sleepily 
from the back. ‘By the way, Mr. Harlow, if I am going to be your brother-in-law, 
can I call you Johnny?’ 

Harlow smiled. ‘You can call me anything you like. Just as long as it’s said in 
a tone of proper respect.’ 

Yes, Mr. Harlow. Johnny, I mean.’ Suddenly his voice was no longer sleepy. 
‘Do you see what I see ?’ 

Ahead of them were the headlights of a car negotiating the vicious hairpins of 
-the lower end of the Col de Tende. 

‘I’ve been seeing it for quite some time. Tracchia.’ Dunnet looked at him. 
‘How can you tell?’ two things.’ Harlow dropped two gears as he approached the 
first hairpin. There aren’t half a dozen people in Europe who can drive a car the 
way that car is being driven.’ He dropped another gear and slid round the hairpin 
with all the calm relaxation of a man sitting in a pew in a church. ‘Show an art 
expert fifty different paintings, and he’ll immediately tell you who the artist is. 
I’m not talking about anything so wildly different as Rembrandt and Renoir. The 
same school of painters. I can recognize the driving technique of any Grand Prix 
driver in the world. After all, there are fewer Grand Prix drivers than there are 
painters. Traccia has the habit of braking slightly early for a corner then 
accelerating quickly through it.’ He threw the Ferrari, tyres shrieking in protest, 
round the next corner, that’s Tracchia.’ 

It was indeed Tracchia. Seated beside him, Jacobson was peering anxiously 
through the rear window. He said: there’s someone coming up behind.’ ‘It’s a 
public road. Anyone can use it.’ ‘Believe me, Nikki, this is not just anyone.’ In 
the Ferrari, Harlow said: ‘I think we better get ready.’ He pressed a button and 
the windows slid down. Then he reached for his gun and placed it beside him. 
‘And I’ll be greatly obliged if neither of you shoot Mary.’ 

Dunnet said : ‘I just hope to hell that tunnel’s blocked.’ He brought out his 
own gun. 

The tunnel was indeed blocked, completely and solidly blocked. A very large 
furniture van was jammed diagonally and apparently immovably into its mouth. 

The Aston Martin rounded the last hairpin. Tracchia swore bitterly and braked 
the car to a halt. Both men gazed apprehensively through the rear window. Mary 
looked too, though with hope, not fear. 

Jacobson said: ‘Don’t tell me that damned truck jammed there is sheer 

coincidence. Turn the car, Nikki. God, there they are!’ 

The Ferrari came sliding round the last corner and accelerated towards them. 
Tracchia tried desperately to turn his car, a manoeuvre made more difficult when 
Harlow, braking heavily, rammed his Ferrari into the side of the Aston. Jacobson 
had his gun out and was firing at apparent random. 

‘Jacobson,’ Harlow said urgently. ‘Not Tracchia. You’ll kill Mary.’ 

Both men leaned out of their windows and fired just as -their windscreen 
smashed and starred. Jacobson ducked low for safety but he ducked too late. He 
screamed in agony as two bullets lodged in his left shoulder. In the confusion 
and noise Mary opened the door and jumped out as quickly as her crippled leg 
would permit her. Neither man, for the moment, even ‘noticed that she was gone. 

Tracchia, only the top of his head visible above the windscreen, eventually 
managed to wrench his car round and clear then accelerated desperately away. 
Four seconds later, with Dunnet having practically dragged Mary inside, the 
Ferrari was in pursuit. Harlow, apparently oblivious to the inflicted cuts, had 
already smashed his fist through the shattered windscreen. .Dunnet completed 
the work with the butt of his pistol. 

Not once, but several times, Mary cried out in fear as Harlow took the Ferrari 
down through the hairpins of the Col de Tende. Rory had his arm round his sister 
and although he did not voice his fear he was plainly just as terrified as Mary 
was. Dunnet, firing his gun through the empty space where the windscreen had 
been, didn’t look particularly happy either. Harlow’s face was still, implacable. 
To an observer, it must have appeared that the car was being driven by a maniac, 
but Harlow was in complete control. To the accompaniment of the sound of 
tortured tyres and engine bellowing in the lower gears, he descended the Cool as 
no one had ever done before and, assuredly, no one would ever do again. By the 
sixth hairpin he was only a matter of feet behind the Aston. 

‘Stop shooting,’ Harlow shouted. He had to shout to make himself heard 
above the sound of an engine at maximum revolutions in bottom gear. 


‘Because it’s not final enough.’ 

The Aston, now only a car’s length ahead, slid desperately round a right-hand 
hairpin bend. Harlow, instead of braking, accelerated, spun the wheel viciously 
to the right and the car slid half-way round the corner on all four screaming, 
skidding tyres,, at right-angles to its line of travel only a second previously, 
apparently completely out of control. But Harlow had judged matters to a hair- 
raising degree of nicety: the side of the Ferrari smashed fairly and squarely into 

that of the Aston. The Ferrari, already practically stopped, rebounded into the 
middle of the curve. The Aston, moving diagonally now and hopelessly 
unmanageable, slid out towards the edge. Beyond the edge there was a drop of 
six hundred feet into the darkened and unseen depths of a ravine below. 

Harlow was out of the stopped Ferrari just before the teetering Aston vanished 
over the side. He was followed almost immediately by the others. They peered 
over the edge of the road. 

The Aston, descending with apparently incredible slowness, turned slowly 
over and over as it fell. It disappeared into the depths and the darkness of the 
ravine. There was a brief thunderclap of sound and a great gout of brilliant 
orange flame that seemed to reach half-way up to where they stood. Then there 
was only the silence and the darkness. 

On the road above, all four stood quiet and still, like people in a trance, then 
Mary, shuddering, buried her face in Harlow’s shoulder. He put his arm around 
her and continued to gaze down, unseeingly as it seemed, into the hidden depths 
of the ravine. 

Alistair MacLean 

His first book, HMS Ulysses, published in 1955, was outstandingly successful. It led the 
way to a string of best-selling novels which have established Alistair MacLean as the most 
popular adventure writer of our time. 

The Golden Gate Circus 
Bear Island 
Breakheart Pass 
Caravan to Vaccares 
The Dark Crusader 
Fear is the Key 
Force 10 from Navarone 
The Golden Rendezvous - 
The Guns of Navarone 
HMS Ulysses 
Ice Station Zebra 
The Last Frontier 
Night Without End 
Puppet on a Chain 
The Satan Bug 
South by Java Head 
The Way to Dusty Death 
When Eight Bells Toll 
Where Eagles Dare 

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